Steel confirmed for velodrome

Last updated 14:22 22/10/2010

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Southern Steel will play four of its ANZ Championship home games in Invercargill next season.

After extensive investigations, Stadium Southland's ILT Velodrome has been deemed a suitable venue to host international netball games with a seating capacity of 2700.

Transforming the city's world-class cycling velodrome into an indoor sports arena had proved "a logistical nightmare" but Steel officials were determined to succeed for its 1200-strong Southland-based membership.

"Our Steel fans are not only the biggest in terms of numbers, they are the most loyal in this whole competition so it was our number one priority to show the same level of loyalty by ensuring the games were retained for them and all the local businesses which support us," chief executive Julie Paterson said.

"Everybody has been incredibly supportive and have attacked this with a real can-do attitude. Several people have lent their considerable expertise to achieve our goal for the community.

"It's been a lengthy process but we are thrilled to get the green light and can now move forward with our exciting plans for next season - the venue won't be the only new innovation."

With the Steel's formidable fortress in Stadium Southland's main complex irreparably damaged last month and completion of the Game on 2012 rebuild project about 17 months away, the velodrome has been tasked with filling the void for elite events like the trans-Tasman league.

Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said the purchase of a $140,000 portable wooden floor reflected their commitment to "making it happen".

"We've also found a solution to increasing the lux level of the lights which will not only meet the Steel's needs in terms of live television but also benefit the likes of basketball, tennis and cycling at future events," he said.

"And our fire egress plans have all been ticked off now which is fantastic. It's about manpower on site to ensure public safety is paramount at all times."

A limited timeframe forced just one change to the initial ANZ Championship draw with the Steel swapping venues with the Wellington-based Central Pulse for their February 13 clash. The Steel will now play on home turf for the first time in a rematch on Monday, March 14.

Other homes games are against the defending champion Adelaide Thunderbirds (March 28), Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic (April 17) and Northern Mystics (May 1) in Invercargill and the Canterbury Tactix (April 9) and New South Wales Swifts (April 17) in Dunedin at the Edgar Centre.

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Paterson said details regarding 2011 Membership were now being finalised and would be revealed next week.

- The Southland Times

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