Any event that requires space for spectators “might take priority” over the participation users of Saxton Stadium, according to Nelson City Council, who are currently trying to juggle a 50 page list of bookings.
With the future of the closed Trafalgar Centre still up in the air, many event organisers have scrambled to find a suitable alternate venue – a lot of those hoping to get into Saxton Stadium which is the region’s premier participation sports venue.
But it’s beginning to have an effect on the current users of the venue, who remain in the dark about how much court space they will be allowed in a busier than usual year.
“I was involved in the stadium from well before it even got its piles in the ground. I’m a very committed grassroots/participation person and at the moment it’s now become an events centre,” says Nelson Bays Volleyball’s operations manager Pamela Brodie.
The most high profile bookings at Saxton Stadium, which would have been at the Trafalgar Centre, include nine Nelson Giants’ home games between April 4 and June 27, an ANZ Championship netball match on May 11, the national cat show on June 29 and the South Island 4 and Rotary Car Show on November 7-9.
The sports events, in particular, need temporary seating to accommodate the 2200 people expected to attend them, and that will result in less court space for everyone else – a year after Saxton Stadium closed due to flood repairs.
Nelson City Council confirmed that just four of the five basketball courts would be available to use throughout the winter sports season, but says it hadn’t given priority to the Nelson Giants in particular. However, it “might” give priority to any event that requires space for spectators, over the participation sports that “could easily relocate to other courts”, says communications manager Angela Ricker.
“All the codes have been accommodated as much as possible. While we’ve been unable to completely meet every group’s requirements, for the most part the codes have been willing to work with us and be flexible.”
Pamela says the stadium was there to build participation programmes, something she described as “being put on hold now”.
“Because of all these extra events and activities happening, it’s very difficult to advertise or increase participation when we have an unknown capacity of use.”
She also says it was more expensive to use other facilities.
Netball Nelson’s manager Chelsea Routhan, says it has been a “struggle”, but they were working closely with the other codes, Sport Tasman and Nelson City Council so everyone can benefit as much as possible. “It’s definitely been difficult and Saxton Stadium is a participation venue, so we’re trying to get as much utilisation as we can,” she says.
According to council, no event had missed out when changing their booking from the Trafalgar Centre to Saxton Stadium, only ones that had opted for other venues that better suited their needs.