Blenheim may benefit from venue closure

STAFF REPORTERS
Last updated 10:07 17/12/2013

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Marlborough could provide an alternative venue for events threatened with cancellation as a result of the sudden closure of Nelson's main indoor venue, the Trafalgar Centre.

The civic building was closed on Friday because of the risk of fatalities in a moderate earthquake.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said he had already been in touch with his Nelson counterpart Rachel Reese to offer assistance.

Marlborough had a convention centre and extensive assets at Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 and both venues could provide alternative options for events booked at the Trafalgar Centre, Mr Sowman said.

"Instead of this closure bringing outright losses to Nelson, this could be an opportunity for Nelson and Marlborough to work together to promote major sporting events with a top-of-the-south branding."

Mr Sowman said he was not sure how many events would be affected in Nelson.

"But if our events organisations can share information about forward bookings, they may be able to find an alternative to cancellations."

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said the decision to close the centre was a result of engineering and legal advice.

"The advice we have received identifies that if the Trafalgar Centre is in use during a moderate earthquake, the risk of loss of life is high. The only appropriate response to managing this risk is to close the centre to public use immediately," she said.

A decision on whether to strengthen the Trafalgar Centre to meet new building standards or pull it down will be made in the New Year.

Ms Reese said it was too early to say what the long-term prospects were for the building.

"We've no answers yet because we need more information on the costs to strengthen the building."

Council staff were making every attempt to find other suitable venues for those who already had bookings in the coming months.

The council had allocated a "significant sum" for temporary seating at the Saxton Stadium, which was built as a participation venue and not a spectator venue, to work in the interim with Nelson's basketball fraternity.

A planned upgrade was put on hold in August for the new council to decide whether to quake-strengthen the Trafalgar Centre or pull it down.

The report on the centre's future outlined possible earthquake strengthening requirements and potential for liquefaction at the site. "I can't underestimate how big an issue this is. It is a significant issue that has come from left field."

The Nelson City Council has called a special meeting for Thursday to discuss the future of the centre.

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- The Marlborough Express

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