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Free rugby no more: flats bordering New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium pegged for demolition by new owners

The flats neighboring Yarrow Stadium have been a popular spot for decades.

Bradley Ambrose/Stuff

The flats neighboring Yarrow Stadium have been a popular spot for decades.

Scoring a free box seat at Taranaki first class rugby games is soon to be a thing of the past with a block of residential flats boasting sweeping views of Yarrow Stadium pegged for demolition.

The Taranaki Regional Council confirmed it was purchasing a property on Marutahu St which borders the stadium, also known as the “Bull Ring” during the national provincial rugby competition.

The block of five flats has been famous landmark during rugby seasons as some tenants and their guests have been able to sit in their living rooms and watch matches ranging from club footy to All Blacks tests to World Cup games.

But the match day free rein of the flats, which have an estimated value of more than a $1 million, could soon be over.

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The stucco building will be demolished or removed in time with the council, which is in the process of spending $70m on redeveloping the stadium after it was declared an earthquake risk, earmarking the land for a “fit-for-purpose” main entrance.

The purchase would not be included in the $70m redevelopment budget.

Taranaki Regional Council director of corporate services Mike Neild said there had been no designs at this stage for how the entrance would look.

“While we’re focused on delivering a stadium that’s loved and enjoyed by the whole community, by purchasing the property now, the [stadium] Trust is laying the groundwork for redeveloping the entranceway once the project to refurbish the stadium is completed in 2024,” he said.

The Taranaki Regional Council is negotiating to purchase the land bordering Yarrow Stadium.

VANESSA LAURIE/Stuff

The Taranaki Regional Council is negotiating to purchase the land bordering Yarrow Stadium.

“Our vision for Yarrow Stadium is to create the best regional stadium in Aotearoa, and we need to make the main entrance more accessible, up to date and suitable for the completed stadium.”

The main entrance has a history of being bottlenecked, although that has been limited to some Super Rugby and test matches.

The property would give the council an extra 634 square meters to develop a modern entranceway which would also improve the stadium’s security checks, one of the major reasons crowds can build up.

The purchase comes just three weeks after it was revealed the budget for the redevelopment of the stadium had ballooned by $20m, despite it now including a smaller East Stand with a capacity of just 1800 from its original 4000.

On Monday it was revealed delays in construction meant the roof on the West Stand at the stadium would not be completed in time for the scheduled three national provincial championship matches Taranaki will play.

Delays in construction have meant the roof on the Yarrow Stadium's West Stand will not be completed in time.

ANDY MACDONALD/Stuff

Delays in construction have meant the roof on the Yarrow Stadium’s West Stand will not be completed in time.

The delay, announced in separate emails from Taranaki Rugby and the Taranaki Regional Council, caused a number of season members to question what the union planned to do around already purchased covered seat packages.

Taranaki Rugby commercial manager Jimmy Fastier confirmed they were working with the New Plymouth District Council, which manages the stadium on behalf of the Taranaki Regional Council, around potential ticket price alterations.

However, any decision on that would not be made until next week.

It is understood Taranaki Rugby looked at potentially shrink wrapping the stand’s roof to provide weather proofing for patrons, but that was rejected because of possible health and safety concerns.

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