'Final straw' has fix

SHELLHARBOUR City Stadium’s leak woes will come to an end later this year following a decision to replace the roof, costing the Shellharbour City Council more than $1.4 million.

General manager Michael Willis said the council had tried to ‘‘fix the unfixable’’ for too long.

‘‘They say hindsight is 20-20 vision,’’ he said.

‘‘I think we tried for too long to fix the roof instead of recognising early enough that it actually wasn’t working.’’

Mr Willis said a report after a youth sports festival at the venue said it would not recommend using the facility.

‘‘For me, that was the final straw,’’ he said.

The Wollongong Rollerhawks will be among those welcoming the work.

Club president Pablo Jimenez said practice sessions had been cancelled in the past due to water on the floors and organising events came with uncertainty, especially when teams travelled long distances to play.

‘‘If we get any water on the court, it would mean losing control over their wheelchairs and the inability to stop,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s like an ice skating rink, it could be potentially dangerous – they could go straight into the wall and damage the chair or hurt themselves.

‘‘[Replacing the roof means] if we want to hold events, we don’t have to worry – if it starts to rain, we would be able to play.’’

The decision was not without controversy because the council did not take legal action against the architect and contractor until after the 10-year time limit had passed.

The council lost almost $285,000 on legal fees.

While there is a chance the stadium might be bulldozed due to the Albion Park bypass, council staff recommended the roof be replaced due to the risk of injury and damage.

Staff said continued loss of confidence in the venue could cost  up to $200,000 in revenue during the decade Roads and Maritime Services might take to finalise  road designs.

RMS has also confirmed the council would be compensated in the event the stadium was lost.

Shellharbour Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin said there had been steady growth in the number of people playing basketball.

‘‘If we get 10 years out of it, then that’s fantastic – we get 10 years of hassle-free sport,’’ he said.

The stadium has been closed for 55 days between February 2010 and June 2013 due to leaks – the leaks reportedly started in 2005.

Regional roller derby games have been cancelled for the past three years, with an estimated income loss of $36,000.

The NSW Basketball Tournament was also cancelled for the same time period, with losses of about $24,000.

A Facebook page titled ‘‘Fix Shellharbour Stadiums[sic] Leaking Roof’’ attracted 666 likes in a week. 

The council has already applied for a low interest loan of $1,051,000 through the state government’s Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme.

A contract is expected to be awarded in April, with construction starting in June.

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