Seat hire costs soar as damage mounts

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:00 24/02/2014

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Tasman's portable seating is falling apart and the district council's community development committee plans to review all aspects of its use and hire costs at its next meeting.

Tasman Rugby Union's commercial and marketing manager Les Edwards told councillors, during the meeting's public forum, that its proposed fee of $14,000 for the union to use the seats over this year's ITM Cup was unaffordable and he queried why it had jumped from the $1750 charged three years ago.

He asked the council to waive the weekly charge over the month it took to erect and dismantle the seats. "That would make the cost more palatable."

The council purchased 3000 portable seats in 2007 for about $500,000 as part of its contribution to the upgrade of Trafalgar Park. The seats have since been hired out for various event around the region and in other parts of the country.

Councillor Trevor Norriss said the process hit problems after the Rugby World Cup games in Nelson when the dismantled seats were returned with "components missing and a lot of extra rusty parts". He estimated the council had spent around $30,000 buying replacement parts.

Now the portable grandstand's plywood flooring was delaminating and replacing it would be a "huge cost".

The council's original agreement that the hire costs covered the loan repayments on the seats' purchase but the council had only earned around $23,000 over the years.

Motueka councillor Barry Dowler said Good Sports Motueka volunteers had spent three days sorting out the flooring of the portable grandstand in preparation for the recent Highlanders v Crusaders game.

"It was quite a mission," said Mr Dowler, who is also the secretary-treasurer of Good Sports Motueka. "We could not believe how much had been damaged." He estimated the bill to replace the flooring could be around $80,000.

Mr Norriss said the council had been guaranteed the flooring was marine-bonded ply when the seats were purchased.

Councillors decided Good Sports Motueka would not be charged for its recent seat hire given the amount of work volunteers had put into repairing and maintaining the grandstand.

The TRU would be offered the council's portable seating for $3525 for the first ITM Cup game and for 25 per cent of the hire cost for the weeks between the season's games.

All options for the seats future use, hire arrangements, maintenance and charging would be discussed at the committee's next meeting.

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