Govt chips in $2m for Stadium Southland

05:26, Sep 04 2014
Key at Stadium Southland
RATTLE THE TIN: Prime Minister John Key chats with Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, Gary Muir, Sarah Brown, Shona Richardson and Acton Smith at Stadium Southland.

Prime Minister John Key has fulfilled his promise to chip into Stadium Southland, but the tin will keep rattling for now.

Yesterday, Key announced the National government would contribute $2 million to help make ILT Stadium Southland debt free.

It comes after Key suggested the Government "might be able to find a bit of cash" to help make the stadium debt-free, provided local tins were rattled, when he officially opened the venue in May.

So far, the Rattle the Tin campaign has raised $1.3 million.

With the government's contribution, the tin is only $1.7m short of the $5m needed.

Key announced the cash boost during a whirlwind visit to Stadium Southland yesterday afternoon.

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There was not a huge precedent for the government to contribute to projects like the stadium, but the Southland community had been through a lot during its collapse and rebuild, he said.

He was confident the stadium would soon be debt-free.

ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said he could not have asked for a better result.

Skelt was confident groups in the community would now "bridge the gap", and he expected the stadium would be debt free within six weeks, he said.

Southland Indoor Leisure Charitable Trust chairman Acton Smith said he was thrilled with the $2m announcement.

The Rattle the Tin campaign was still going strong and there was a lot of people out there wanting to contribute, he said.

Labour MP Lesley Soper, speaking after the announcement, said she had expected the government to contribute more to the stadium, and thought the $2 million made the government seem "mean-spirited".

However, those on the ground seemed to enjoy the Prime Minister's visit. While visiting the stadium, Key was swarmed by hundreds of young netballers, competing in the South Island Secondary Schools tournament this week, who wanted selfies with the Prime Minister.

He took time to pose for photographs with many teams, causing chaos for umpires as the crowd threatened to spill on to court.

Key also stopped to meet babies and chat to spectators about the tournament, and visited Hospice Southland for a cup of tea before flying out of town.

The Southland Times