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by Chris Tobin

Touch and junior cricket will be played at Timaru’s Alpine Energy Stadium, home of South Canterbury rugby, when a major $3.6million redevelopment of the park is completed.

“We’ve held discussions and we’ll be opening in the summer months,” South Canterbury Rugby Union chief executive Craig Calder said.

Discussions have also been held with Football South Canterbury and the Aoraki Rugby League about using the ground.

“It will be multipurpose.

“We did a complete feasibility study looking at other venues in Timaru before we decided to go ahead.”

Mr Calder said the union hoped for a start time for the project “this time next year”, depending on a final response regarding funding.

Rooney Group has been appointed to manage the project.

Mr Calder said the response to the project had been extremely positive.

“It’s well overdue and the ground is missing so much playing time, and one stand [the east] needs pulling down.

while we’ve got great growth in female rugby, 43%, and no facilities for them.”

The southern stands would be retained but “tidied up”, while a two-storey complex would be built on the eastern end of the ground with offices, changing facilities, gym, cafe and lounge.

The Church St tin fence would be replaced.

The main playing ground will have a surface similar to that at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, with a mixture of artificial and natural grass.

This would allow play on the field to be 40 hours a week, when at present only 10 to 15 hours were possible.