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The upgrade of Whangarei's Okara Park is to get a $2.5 million grant from the government, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully announced today.
The ground is to host two games during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and Mr McCully said the upgraded stadium would leave a lasting legacy for the Northland community well beyond the tournament.
"The Rugby World Cup has proven a timely catalyst for a number of infrastructure developments around the country, and that includes stadia.
"The tournament will have a global TV audience of around four billion. We want to make the most of the opportunity to promote New Zealand, and projects like this will ensure we do," Mr McCully said.
"Beyond the Rugby World Cup, an upgraded stadium will leave a lasting legacy for the wider community. The Northland Regional Council and Whangarei District Council have recognised that in committing a significant amount of money to this project.
"During a time of economic downturn, development of events infrastructure not only creates jobs and opportunities for local businesses, it also builds our capability to host future major events, which bring their own economic, social and cultural benefits."
Work on the $16 million project, which includes a new North Stand, is already underway and is scheduled to be completed by May 2010.
As well as remaining the base for Northland Rugby, the redeveloped park and its events centre will host other sports, along with trade shows, conferences, and concerts.
The government's contribution sits alongside two grants of $15 million recently confirmed for the development of a new stadium in Dunedin, and the redevelopment of AMI Stadium in Christchurch.