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$8m injected into grandstand redevelopment

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Rugby Park is set to have an 8 million dollar injection as part of the Government’s $3 billion Covid-19 infrastructure spend-up. 

The large sum will not only be used to restore Rugby Park but redevelop it into a fit-for-purpose facility for the wider community, including other sports, entertainment, cultural and whānau events.

The historical John Heikell grandstand has been closed since May 2019 due to its condition, primarily its seismic strength.

The project is estimated to support the employment of 30 people over a 14-month period.

Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union Chief Executive, Josh Willoughby says the announcement came as a huge surprise yesterday and will be a very welcome one from our community. 

“We are incredibly grateful to the Government, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and local Labour MP Kiri Allan for their support and advocacy to redeveloping Rugby Park,” says Willoughby. 

“We see this as a huge opportunity for our community to build a facility we can all be proud of. 

Poverty Bay Rugby Union is a part of the Tairāwhiti Sports Collective group and has been committed to investigating sports hubs alongside other sporting codes for several months.   

“In addition to rebuilding the John Heikell grandstand, we will be actively pursuing the creation of a multisports/community hub with the right support from the NZ Government and our community.

“Rugby Park is identified in Gisborne District Council’s Spatial Plan as a Sports Hub and this recognition from the Government reinforces that.

 “It also reinforces the impact sports and community facilities have on the community and its overall wellbeing.

“The value of sports and recreation to both the individual and community is almost immeasurable but undoubtedly positive.

“Gisborne’s Rugby Park has a long and very esteemed history, hosting touring international teams and All Blacks trials. I’m sure we can all acknowledge the significance of the opening game of the 1981 Springbok tour – to know we can help restore that significance is incredibly satisfying.

Once construction is completed, Rugby Park will be able to host regional and national fixtures. 

Willoughby said, “Our aspiration for a Farah Palmer Cup team will no longer be limited by unfit facilities.”

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us but it’s exciting. We hope to have construction beginning in early 2021.

 “I would like to give a special mention to our Council of Clubs Chairman, Marty Bayley, who developed and submitted the application for this funding during lockdown.”