Plan for stand receives support

ADAM ROBERTS AND JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 29/01/2013
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Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio's plan for an upgrade of Trafalgar Park has received tentative support from sports clubs and property developers, with most agreeing more research should be done.

Mr Miccio has proposed selling council land to fund the construction of an up to $12 million new eastern stand with seating for 2000 to 5000 people, depending on affordability.

He envisages a three-storeyed structure that would include corporate boxes, rugby clubrooms and hospitality and function areas, as well as team facilities.

It would also have a three-storeyed apartment and retail building facing Trafalgar St.

Mr Miccio said he believed clubs and codes would want to be a part of the new purpose-built stand facilities.

"We have had compromised solution after compromised solution with this stand."

Currently, Trafalgar Park is used primarily as a rugby ground by the Tasman Makos and local club rugby teams in the winter and has mainly been used by the Nelson Falcons national Youth League football team this summer.

The park had struggled to attract large national and international fixtures that required big outlays such as the $400,000 spent on temporary seating for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

With the upgrade, Mr Miccio said he could see Trafalgar Park attracting New Zealand representative rugby matches, such as the Maori All Blacks, Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand Warriors preseason games and possibly regular season fixtures.

There would be scope to add annual national events such as the national rugby sevens rugby, and one-off events like international concerts and the Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

Mr Miccio estimated the proposed sale of the council-owned land near Trafalgar Park to fund the development could bring in up to $15 million, but a detailed study would be needed.

The land is occupied by the Tasman Rugby Union buildings, the Nelson Rugby Football Club clubrooms, the Marist rugby clubrooms and squash court, as well as the car park area and brass-band headquarters.

A potential problem with the plan was whether the land, which had been bought with the rest of a loan established to help Taranaki War refugees, was able to be used for commercial purposes.

Mr Miccio said someone would need to make a submission as part of the council's annual plan process for a study into the plan to go ahead. "If you're someone out there who thinks this is a good development opportunity, come and see us."

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Sports clubs based in the Trafalgar Park grounds are generally supportive of the idea.

Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Andrew Flexman said there was potentially a substantial upside. "There are benefits potentially for the region and my code as well to attract bigger events.

"It is potentially exciting and it represents substantial progress. It may represent the future in terms of multi-use.

"There is talk of corporate hospitality facilities, which I would be hugely supportive of."

Marist club captain Brett Thornalley said another stand with corporate seating would be great for not just rugby, but any events. "As far as us moving there, we would want more discussions with council and basically a guarantee that we would be able to play more rugby there as a club."

Nelson Rugby Football Club president Shane Graham said the club had a long history in the current building. "They were our first clubrooms . . . and with Trafalgar Park, playing the first game there in 1884, we would want the autonomy to see that that unique relationship will continue.

"In terms of having a site there, we look forward to seeing some options, but the devil is in the detail."

Grey Power president and former Sport Tasman chief executive Neville Male said he was personally in favour of the plan as long as it could be completely funded by private investment.

The plan had been talked about in the past, but it was a good time for someone to have a good a look at the feasibility.

Dunedin's experiences with its Forsyth Barr Stadium were a warning that costs needed to be nailed down early, he said, but it was clear that the eastern stand had "done its dash".

"The key would be to make it palatable, to have it as a private enterprise without Nelson ratepayers having to put their hand in their pocket."

Summit Real Estate sales and marketing consultant Bevan Dixon said the idea had merit, but a more detailed investigation needed to be made.

Mr Dixon thought a proposal for apartments in the stand complex could be appealing to sports-mad Nelsonians or investors, but he did not think they would be the first cab off the rank.

"If you could attract events and other activities I'm sure you could do it."

- Nelson

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