Stadium perfect - conference organisers

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014
SIDE conference organisers
COLLETTE DEVLIN/Fairfax NZ
BACK FOR SECONDS: SIDE conference organisers Nicola Burgess, left, and Heather Stevenson are so impressed with Stadium Southland they have booked it again for the next conference.

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The conference facilities at Stadium Southland have impressed delegates and organisers at the South Island Dairy Event.

SIDE was last held in Invercargill in 2010 but, after heavy snow damaged Stadium Southland, the conference was shifted to Dunedin in 2012.

The conference is held at the Lincoln University campus every second year.

Organising committee chairman Paul Marshall said the event required a large area to host the 33 breakout sessions as well as keynote speakers and activities.

"This venue really delivered. The old stadium was good but this is better.

"When I walked in it was familiar but new at the same time.

"It was like the old stadium on steroids," he said.

Organisers Nicola Burgess and Heather Stevenson said many delegates had commented on the "wow factor" of the venue.

Simple things such as heating of individual courts and audio had made an impression, she said.

"This venue is perfect, we have everything under one roof and close together."

Up to 600 dairy farmers from throughout New Zealand, and a few Australians, were attending the conference, which has been held annually since 1998. It was the biggest conference to date, Stevenson said.

The stadium had been booked for the next Southland based conference, which would be bigger, she said.

There was extra space to utilise and more space to sell to exhibitors, who were on a waiting list to attend.

The stadium conference facilities were also discussed at a Venture Southland directorate meeting this week.

Tourism, events and community group manager Rex Capil said conferences required top class venues and the stadium created an incredible opportunity for Southland in the market.

It's capacity would attract many tourism conferences, which would have a positive impact on the number of visitors to the region, he said.

Southlanders are being asked to help make the stadium debt-free.

The Stadium Trust has calculated that it still needs $5 million "to get across the line" and is asking businesses and individuals from throughout the region to take part in its Rattle the Tin fundraising campaign.

The trust has accepted Prime Minister John Key's challenge that if "local tins were rattled", the Government would be prepared to contribute.

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- The Southland Times

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