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Staged development of a proposed $16 million multi-events centre at Whangarei’s Okara Park will begin within days – with a new pitch, refurbished north stand and embankments expected to be ready by mid-August. (subs: August 2009)
The balance of the site – including a new south stand, 200-seat convention centre and retail space – is scheduled to be handed over in late May next year under a deal signed off today by the Northland Regional and Whangarei District Councils.
Regional Councillors met in Whangarei today (subs: Weds 28 January) to formally award the contract to build the centre to East Tamaki-based Argon Construction.
The contract is subject to a strict $16 million budget cap; $13M to come from the Regional Council and $3M from its District counterpart.
District Councillors met separately earlier today to formally confirm the WDC’s $3M contribution, ratify the contract and to agree to assume responsibility (together with an independent trust) for the centre’s operation and maintenance on its completion.
The Regional Council has been rating for its share of the project since mid-2006 and Chairman Mark Farnsworth and Whangarei Mayor Stan Semenoff say both Councils are confident the proposed development will deliver a truly multi-use events centre.
“We’ve stressed all along that this facility must be multi-use – and remain within budget – and these were among some of the core conditions which had to be satisfied before the final decision to formally award the contract was made today,” they said.
Mr Semenoff says the centre will include a minimum 200-seat convention centre and will provide a venue for cultural and community events as well as a variety of sports events, including rugby, rugby league, soccer and possibly indoor bowls.
He says the completed centre – which will be handed over to a charitable trust for ownership and operation - would be one of which Northlanders would be justifiably proud.
Mr Semenoff says both Councils believe today’s deal represents excellent value for money and will also provide work for Northlanders in tough economic times. A number of local companies are expected to be involved with the events centre’s construction, either as suppliers or in a subcontracting role.
Meanwhile, Mr Farnsworth says the newly-signed contract contains provision for the handover of a new pitch, refurbished north stand and embankments in August this year.
Mr Semenoff says this timeframe will ensure major park user the Northland Rugby Union will meet a New Zealand Rugby Union requirement to host night games at Okara Park from mid-August.
A three-strong Northland contingent will travel to Wellington next month to meet with Rugby World Cup 2011 (New Zealand) representatives to explore the possibility of the events centre/redeveloped park being used as a practice and/or game venue for the World Cup.
Mr Semenoff says decisions on match venues are not expected to be announced until March or April, but he’s optimistic Northland would be among them, something which would not have happened without the events centre development.