Work starts on Jellie Park sports centre

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 14:44 18/10/2012

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A $3.5 million temporary high-performance sports centre will be built at Jellie Park by March.

Canterbury's star athlete at the London Paralympics, Sophie Pascoe, and Sport Minister Murray McCully today turned soil on the site to mark the start of the project.

The Government-funded facility will house a gym, an indoor sprint track, a full-size netball court, an athletes' lounge and office space for High Performance Sport New Zealand staff.

There has been no central training area for athletes since the earthquakes closed the high-performance facilities at Queen Elizabeth II Park, and the temporary facility is being developed with one eye on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Pascoe said the centre was the start of what she would like to see built for sport in the next five years.

''Losing QEII was hard on all of us. We had everything at our feet,'' she said.

''This is just the start. I'd like to see it grow a lot more to bring the culture back to what we had before.''

McCully said he hoped the facility would be a springboard to getting sporting facilities operating again in Christchurch.

''It recognises the important contribution Canterbury makes to high-performance sport in New Zealand,'' he said.

Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin said what was being built did not compare with the status that QEII Park had in the community.

''It's not on the same scale as QEII. At the moment, this is just the home for the next four years,'' he said.

''Whether what we have created is a sort of QEIII, only time will tell.

''I don't necessarily want to compare it. I just think it's the circumstances Christchurch is in, and by March next year our athletes will have a home, which is great.''

The facilities will be mainly used by athletes, but the netball court will be available to the community when it is not being used by the Tactix.

Council community services manager Michael Aitken said the location of the centre was perfect because of the tie-in with the Jellie Park pool.

''You'll get things like a 5-year-old swimming next to Sophie Pascoe and thinking to themselves, 'Yep, that's inspirational stuff'.''

He said the centre was temporary and would be re-evaluated in four years.

The council would manage the facility, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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