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Helen Clark: Opening Stadium Southland Extensions

Helen Clark Speech On Opening of Stadium Southland extensions

Project first to receive grant from the new the Significant Community Based Projects Fund

Thank you for the opportunity to be here for the opening of this superb new extension to Stadium Southland.

When I last came to the stadium almost nine months ago, these extensions were a building site, and, on a wet day, a rather muddy one! But the rain couldn't dampen the incredible enthusiasm of everyone involved in the project.

The original Stadium Southland, opened only a few years ago, has been an outstanding success.

It speaks volumes for the spirit of Southland that these major extensions have now been completed in such a short time.

I would like to congratulate the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust, and the Invercargill Licensing Trust, who have worked tirelessly to make this vision become a reality.

I acknowledge too, the Community Trust of Southland, which is such an important funder in the region.

In particular, credit must go to the incomparable Ray Harper - Chairman of the Stadium Trust, and to Greg Mulvey, General Manager of the Licensing Trust.

I would also like to acknowledge the support for the project of Cycling Southland, Bike NZ, the local councils - and our local mayors, from Invercargill, Tim Shadbolt, and from Southland District Council, Frana Cardno

This extension represents a significant community fund-raising effort - it couldn't have been done without the support of the people of Southland. It is fantastic to see a community that believes in itself and its people, and works together to build something for young and old alike.

In light of that community spirit and commitment, it gives me great pleasure to announce that the Government is also coming to the party.

I can tonight announce that this project has been successful in its application to a new fund, the Significant Community Based Projects Fund. The government will be contributing up to $ 1 million to the stadium extension.

This project is the very first to receive money from this new fund. Congratulations Southland.

The fund was established to support major community-based projects, which have significant community support and participation, and which have benefits for the region or the country as a whole.

Clearly this development provides many benefits for the Southland region and New Zealand - through sport and recreation, tourism, and economic development.

World class facilities bring big events to a region. Stadium Southland is a classy venue, for sport, conferences, and entertainment. Now it has New Zealand's only indoor velodrome, even more community courts, and is the headquarters for a number of Southland's sports bodies.

I am one who believes strongly in the positive role which sport and recreation play in our society.

The more active we are, the healthier we will be. As well sport helps unite communities, and it gives our country a high profile on the world stage, where we often punch above our weight. Increasingly we recognise the power of sport and recreation to build civic, regional, and national pride and confidence. That's obvious any time we experience the atmosphere at Stadium Southland when the Sting has a home game!

Cycling in Southland will benefit tremendously from this extension, as will other users across a variety of sports codes.

For cycling, it's a huge opportunity to expand the sport, and to play an even bigger role in promoting community fitness. As well, I'm sure we'll be seeing international championships here.

I wish you every success with the new velodrome, and with the four community courts, which will be used for indoor netball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, and soccer.

It's going to be fantastic tonight to see the New Zealand-Australia cycling carnival on what is New Zealand's first indoor velodrome.

There's nothing like a little trans-Tasman rivalry and I hope that our guests from across the Tasman enjoy tonight and the velodrome.

Welcome especially to Peter Bartels, Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission. As many of us know, Peter is passionate about cycling - he is Patron of the Australian Cycling Federation and represented Australia for many years winning a gold medal at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth.

Once again, congratulations Southland on your amazing achievement in completing this outstanding extension to Stadium Southland.

It is now my pleasure to declare the extensions to Stadium Southland and New Zealand's first indoor velodrome officially open.

Ends

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