Stadium set to open
Stadium Southland will open to the public next week but the prime minister has thrown a spanner in the works for the official opening.
Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said there would be a "soft" opening on Monday.
The squash courts, community courts and the climbing walls would be open for public use.
The event courts would open for the first Southern Steel netball game on March 2.
A stadium management-team area would be completed within the next two weeks he said.
"I am extremely excited for our staff, and public will be impressed by the wow factor."
It had taken longer than anticipated to complete the stadium but it was now future-proofed for the next generations of Southlanders, he said. The outside of the stadium would be cleaned up today and tomorrow, he said.
Stadium Trust deputy chairman Alan Dennis said an official opening date would depend on Prime Minister John Key, who had been asked to to do the honours.
However, a spokeswoman for Mr Key said he had declined the invitation to open the stadium this month, citing pressures on his busy schedule.
"We have recommended the Deputy Prime Minister and local MP Bill English," she said.
Mr Dennis said the trust had not given up on getting Mr Key and would "bend over backwards" to accommodate his schedule.
It was important to have someone of his calibre, he said. "He is our clear preference."
The official opening date would now hinge on a further response from Mr Key.
The Southland Times