22 Nov 2017

Further Christchurch Metro Centre delays frustrate sports fans

8:39 am on 22 November 2017

Christchurch sports clubs are dismayed to hear their new indoor sports centre has been pushed back yet again.

It's back to the drawing board for Christchurch's long promised state of the art sports centre and locals are frustrated that generations of children are missing out.

An artist's impression of the Metro Sports Facility northern entry.

An artist's impression of the Metro Sports Facility's northern entry. Photo: Christchurch City Council

The Christchurch Metro Sports Facility includes a 50 metre swimming pool, basketball and netballs courts and a gym and was meant to be finished last year but construction hasn't even started.

The centre was announced in 2013 as an anchor project for the city.

It was meant to be finished last year but construction hasn't even begun - and the $217 million budget has ballooned out to more than $300 million.

To rein in costs Rebuild Minister Megan Woods has now axed the contract with Leighs Cockram Joint Venture, and told the Crown-owned company Ōtākaro to take over.

Christchurch Basketball boss Paul Duggan had seen interest in the sport skyrocket, particularly among children, since the 2011 earthquake.

But the lack of indoor courts was a huge problem, he said.

"A lot of our junior competitions, especially, where we have the most growth, play very short versions of the game - 13-minute halves for a team, which doesn't give them a great deal of basketball.

"There's no room for expansion: the junior competitions run in Christchurch are pretty much maxed-out, and so if teams don't register early enough, they miss out on getting a spot."

The Facility was intended to be located near Hagley Park.

The Facility is intended to be located near Hagley Park. Photo: Supplied

Swimming Canterbury chair Wayne Rollinson isn't impressed either.

"It's a complete negative for our sport, you know we were promised six years ago to be 2018 to 2019 and now it's shot up to 2020 and we're probably looking at 2021 so we're looking at two generations of swimmers now who are either going to miss out or have reduced time in a 50-metre pool."

Mr Rollinson said the lack of facilities had meant big sacrifices for families who had to travel to other cities if they wanted to compete in an Olympic sized pool.

"For our regional championships we're still competing in the Dunedin area and the national events are being held in Wellington and Auckland, and those costs are being incurred by families - probably in the vicinity of an extra three to six or seven thousand dollars per child."

Angus Gourlay from Canterbury Volleyball was fed up with lack of courts which mean club meets have to be held over two nights.

"We can get about 24 teams playing on the night, though right now we're having to run things on a Wednesday night as well just to fit all the teams in but obviously ideally we'd love to have it all on the one night under one roof so all those young players get to see those top players playing and things like that."

Christchurch clubs have to wait until March to find out what a new design for the sports centre will look like and whether it might be merged with a new stadium planned for the city.

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