$2m to secure stadium's roof

Yarrow Stadium will get a $2 million roof upgrade to protect the venue from potential ruin if forced to cancel an event in high winds.

Yet to be tendered, the work is to be finished in time for the stadium to host six Fifa U-20 World Cup matches scheduled for there in May and June next year.

Mike Nield, of the Taranaki Regional Council, which owns the stadium, said the work had nothing to do with pressure from Fifa.

"This came about out of the joint committee working on developing an asset management plan.

"They decided it was imprudent to wait. If a major event gets cancelled what is the likelihood of us getting the All Blacks back for another test?"

Since high winds damaged the south end of the TSB Stand in April 2012, the venue has operated under an evacuation rule if wind from the south reaches 50 knots (96kmh).

Consultancy firm Beca was last year commissioned to produce a report on the roof issues which concluded new "skins" fitted over the existing roofs of both grandstands would reduce both leaks and the wind risk to an acceptable level.

Nield said there were no financial implications for ratepayers as the work would be paid for by jiggling current budgets.

The stadium is operated and managed in partnership with the New Plymouth District Council through the Taranaki Stadium Trust. It receives annual funding of $876,000 from the TRC.

Taranaki regional councillor Craig Williamson said it was sensible that the roof work be undertaken now.

"If we had to cancel one of these high-profile international fixtures because of public safety concerns in extreme winds, the consequences wouldn't bear thinking about.

"Future high-profile international events would be just about impossible to secure. The stadium's reputation would be in tatters."

The Beca report canvassed a number of other options which included doing nothing or replacing the washers on the existing roofs, New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd said.

He said the skin option would both strengthen the structures and address the issue with leaks.

Taranaki regional councillor Peter Horton said the TRC was aware of the roof issues when it took control of the stadium in 2012.

He said the original intention was to address them as part of the stadium's 2015-2025 Asset Management Plan but the Beca report led to the decision to take action before next year's big events.

The work does not stop the $1m upgrade of the stadium, which includes a $489,00 LED big-screen scoreboard, refurbishment of the Legends Lounge and a fibre internet connection to the New Plymouth District Council.

Taranaki Daily News