Southland’s $1.8m softball development underway

19 April, 2019

Southland Softball Association project manager Noel Eade checks out the progress made on work to build new clubrooms at the Surrey Park Sports Precinct in early July 2020.  Mr Eade said the build was expected to be completed by Christmas. Photo: Petrina Wright

“The ILT and ILT Foundation were the first ones to come on board [to support the project]. “They were the catalyst for this. Quite honestly, without them it would never have gotten off the ground.”

Work has started on Southland softball’s $1.8m Surrey Park development.

The first sod of dirt was turned on Monday at what will soon be Southland softball’s new home at Surrey Park after, close to a decade of discussions.

Members of the softball community gathered with project funders and Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt to witness the start of the work.

The first stage was to provide an access way for when builders start on constructing the phase of the new building.

The building and softball diamonds will be built on the opposite side of the Surrey Park athletics track track from where Southland softball was now based.

Southland Softball Association chairperson Rata Hopa said it was surreal seeing the diggers on site on Monday and work started.

“It’s actually quite incredible, there has been five or six years of talk so to see them there today is unreal to be honest,” Hopa said.

The Invercargill City Council has already agreed for Southland softball to relocate at Surrey Park, but the next stage for the Southland Softball Association was to get a building consent.

They were finalising the plans and was set to apply for building consent, Hopa said.

Hopa would love for softball to be played at the new site next season, but predicted it would more likely be the 2020/21 season.

Locking in the funding and now taking the first steps of developing the site was great for the softball community, Hopa said.

“It was quite hard when we didn’t have a lot we could tell [the softball community], so with the funding in place and now making a start today they can see [the project] is happening.”

The Invercargill Licensing Trust and ILT Foundation have together put $750,000 towards the project, while the Community Trust South and Lottery Grants Board have contributed $250,000 each.

There was still about another $250,000, with some of it to come from the Southland softball community itself in terms of in-kind donations.

Credit: Southland Times