Apr 20

Shellharbour City stadium reopens

Shellharbour City mayor Marianne Saliba and Ken Garcia check out the Shellharbour City Stadium’s new roof. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Foralmost a decade, users of Shellharbour City’s indoor stadium had the unusual problem of hoping for dry weather to get a game.

During 2012 and 2013, the stadium was closed on 55 days due to rain. It was sheer frustration at another cancellation in November 2013 that saw basketballer Ken Garcia set up a Facebook page, Fix Shellharbour Stadium’s Leaking Roof, and in days it had more than 600 “likes”.

After much discussion Shellharbour City Council agreed to spend $1.4 million on a new roof.

User groups said problems with a leaky roof dated back to the complex’s opening in 2000, although the council maintained leaks were first noticed in 2005.

When opened, the building was praised for its “environmentally sensitive” design. However, the design contributed to the roof having multiple breach points.

Problems with the roof left Shellharbour council hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket as temporary solutions failed and legal action proved unsuccessful.

On Monday, regular basketballers returned to the court. The stadium had been closed since June to complete the roof replacement and upgrade works.

Mr Garcia said he was delighted with the new roof.

“It looks good, like brand new,” he said. “It is exciting to be back.”

He thanked Shellharbour’s councillors and staff for their support and the people who had supported his Facebook campaign.

He has already turned his attention to a new project which is setting up the inaugural Illawarra Big Kidney Walk and Run, expected to be held early next year.

In September, his mother Raquel donated a kidney to save the life of Mr Garcia’s brother Brindon, 41, who had been on dialysis for seven years due to kidney failure.

On Saturday, the council will host a party at the stadium to celebrate the reopening.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience during this major renovation and would like to welcome everyone back to enjoy some fun activities,” Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said.

The event, from noon to 2pm, includes guest appearances from Wollongong Hawks players, bubble soccer, face painting, giveaways, a basketball development class and sausage sizzle.

The stadium is taking registrations for summer competitions including netball and basketball.

Contact the Shellharbour City Stadium for more information on 4257 3468.

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