The Community Trust of Southland will not be the new owner of Rugby Park if Council decides this week not to take ownership of the facility.
The future of Rugby Park Stadium is in doubt because its present owner – the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust – is in financial difficulty, and Council is currently consulting on three options for the future of the facility.
The Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust (SOST) has an outstanding loan to the Community Trust of Southland that it does not expect to be able to pay back when repayments are due to begin in 2020, and Council Chief Executive Richard King has been working with others to find a way to satisfy both the Community Trust of Southland financially and to keep the stadium open. The stadium is the base for Rugby Southland.
In Council’s consultation document Council said under Option One that ownership of Rugby Park would be transferred to the Community Trust and that it was not known if the Community Trust would run Rugby Park or if it would be sold to recover the outstanding loan. However Community Trust Chair Trish Boyle has advised that this is not the case, and that the Community Trust of Southland does not intend to take over ownership of Rugby Park.
“Council in consultation with the SOST and Rugby Southland have developed a proposal for Council to take over ownership of Rugby Park, for which Council will pay the SOST $400,000 and take over the liability owing to Rugby Southland. If that option is not pursued, and the status quo remains, the ball will then be back in the court of the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust to initiate appropriate action, not the Community Trust of Southland. Repayment of the Community Trust’s loan is not scheduled to commence until 2020, and so at this stage there is no event of default in respect of our loan.”
“Council owning Rugby Park would clearly relieve the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust of ongoing responsibility for the facility, and that would be a good outcome; however if Council choose not to pursue that option and instead decide to retain the status quo then the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust will still be responsible for the operations and finances of the facility. If they find themselves unable to meet those responsibilities then it would be up to them to determine the appropriate course of action. That may require them to appoint a liquidator, but ultimately that is their call as trustees.”
Mr King said it was timely to receive this clarification prior to Council hearing submissions and making a decision on the future of Rugby Park later this week.