MEDIA RELEASE 30 October 2008
Christchurch City Council has unveiled plans to redevelop part of QEII Park to accommodate expansion of the Academy of Sport South Island - in an area currently occupied by four squash courts.
The Academy of Sport South Island - the high performance partnership between the council and the Academy of Sport South Island - opened late last year and transformed QEII from a satellite operation of the Academy to the main South Island hub.
“Since then the Academy of Sport has gone from strength to strength and is already calling out for more space so it can offer a full range of services to athletes and coaches,” according to Council Recreation and Sports Manager John Filsell.
“The Centre wants to offer sports science areas, fitness and testing facilities, hydro-therapy rehabilitation, spaces for hypoxicator training, areas designated for running, throwing, jumping facilities, video analysis etc - all from one location. This range of facilities is not available in a single location anywhere else in the country, and is especially valuable because of the close proximity of pools, track and indoor courts at QEII. These facilities will be put to use all day, every day,” says Mr Filsell.
To make room for expansion to the Academy of Sport, QEII will lose its four older style squash courts - which currently receive very little use. The courts will close at the end of the year to make way for work to create seminar and interview rooms, sports science, fitness and testing facilities for the Academy of Sport.
Mr Filsell says the Council will work with regular users of the squash courts to find suitable alternative venues for them to play, or other fitness activities they can do at QEII.
“We know that almost all QEII squash players arrive at the park by car, so we know they have access to transport. There is a range of playing venues in the city - and this includes the five court public squash centre at Sockburn that was recently opened by Squash Canterbury - operating the facility under lease from the Council.”
Work on the new Academy of Sport facilities at QEII will begin early in the New Year and should be complete by April 2009.
ACADEMY OF SPORT BACKGROUND
The QEII Centre of Excellence was opened late last year - a leading sports training centre developed as a partnership between the Council and the Academy of Sport South Island. It provides a high performance proposition to individuals, groups, teams and national sports organisations - attracting both permanent and visiting groups to the country’s top sports training destination.
The NZ Academy of Sport has had a presence at QEII Park for the past 7 years. Sparc’s 2007 decision to support just two New Zealand High Performance Hubs identified QEII Park and Auckland’s Millennium Centre as the preferred locations. This meant QEII Park changed from being a satellite operation of the NZ Academy of Sport South Island to being the main South Island Hub.
This recognition of QEII Park and Christchurch is significant for retaining coaches and athletes in the South Island. The alternative would have been for almost all coaches and athletes to be based in the North Island.
The QEII Academy of Sport provides development and performance services, programmes, plans and opportunities for carded athletes and coaches identified by their respective national sporting organisations, focusing on sporting success at an international level. In addition, promising athletes and coaches are identified locally for development and supported in their endeavours to become carded and progress their sporting aspirations.
In addition to the QEII Centre of Excellence, Sparc and the New Zealand Academy of Sport support satellite South Island centres in Dunedin (in association with The Highlanders rugby franchise) and Wanaka/Snow Farm for alpine-based sports.
Sparc’s identification of QEII Park as the designated South Island Hub was welcomed by the Christchurch City Council - which has since committed $200k per annum for five years as a contribution towards the NZ Academy of Sport South Island’s operational expenses.
The council also leases space to the NZ Academy of Sport for administration, seminar and interview requirements, sports science, skills testing and fitness programme provision. Transformation of the current squash courts area into a sports science and training facility for the Academy of Sport is consistent with the council’s desire (expressed in the QEII Park Concept Plan) that the potential of QEII Park as a high-performance sports centre be maximised.
High Performance Sports at QEII Park provides balance to activity at the facility. QEII Park remains accessible to the community for daily use - including events, leisure, sport, health and fitness. The Academy of Sport links opportunities for high performance sport to goals and visions for which QEII Park was originally provided.