When the All Blacks run onto Trafalgar Park next year it will be in front of a largely temporary stadium, but sporting leaders hope that will change sooner rather than later.
The pitch at Trafalgar Park was upgraded for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, along with other key infrastructure like entry and ticketing booths and lights.
But while one side of Trafalgar Park is a modern stand, the other is made up of temporary seating with the old main grandstand still standing behind it.
When the All Blacks arrive in town for next year’s Rugby Championship, temporary stands will be added at either end in an effort to recreate a similar atmosphere to an English football ground.
In an interview with Nelson Weekly last week, Tasman Rugby Union CEO Tony Lewis said Nelson needed to “make up its mind” about how Trafalgar Park should look to attract other big events in the future.
He suggested that a 10,000 seat stadium with a roof shouldn’t be discounted.
“I think, as a region, we need to work out what we want. I think what the town needs for events, whether it MotoX events, opera, Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, is a 10,000 seat stadium that is practical, not over the top and that doesn’t cost a lot of money. I think this town also needs some infrastructure. I think then events will want to come here. Wouldn’t it be great to have a 10,000 seat stadium in Nelson with a roof over the top? We could bring any event here. For an All Blacks test we just add another 5000 at either end. How good would that be? I think as a city we need to stop whinging about having to go to Auckland for events, get our own stuff together and let’s start thinking big.”
Chair of the Sport and Recreation Committee at Nelson City Council, Cr Tim Skinner, says he agrees with Tony and wants to talk about how to improve Trafalgar Park.
“I view it [Trafalgar Park] as our premier sporting spot and with the Sport and Rec committee being new we’re just at the point of doing the long term plan and what would best serve Nelson.”
He says he’s open to ideas and said of Tony’s roof idea, “lets throw it in the mix” but was adamant that something needed to be done to improve the park.
“I’d definitely like to see something happen. There are some things I like to go real big on and some things use a bit-by-bit approach. But I think the leverage we can get, and with the location that Trafalgar Park has, it would be worth the investment.”
“Community sport is now well catered for because the council has done a lot of work over recent years but Trafalgar Park is quite a different niche and it needs some work.”
He says he’d like to see the pitch moved a few metres closer to the existing west stand and then a new stand built as close as possible to the pitch, but was keen to hear from sporting codes and residents before setting any wheels in motion.
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