Stand breaks for young rugby fans

By Genevieve Helliwell


Hundreds of young rugby fans were moved from their seats at Baypark Stadium after the stand they were sitting on partially collapsed during the Steamers game.

More than half a dozen brackets that supported the temporary seating area had broken or rusted off. This caused the seating area to collapse in two places.

Baypark general manager Ervin McSweeney confirmed to the Bay of Plenty Times a couple of support brackets had broken off the temporary seating stand during the Steamers vs Taranaki game on Saturday afternoon.

He said the tiered, wooden seating area was predominantly a children's area.

"The stand didn't collapse. What happened was some there are some temporary seats put in front of the main stand and a couple of bracing joints on that broke for some reason," he said. "There's a whole lot of [brackets] that support the stand and for some reason two out of 25 of these things weren't strong enough and one end [of the stand] slightly moved," he said.

When the Bay of Plenty Times visited Baypark Stadium yesterday, seven of about 80 metal brackets on the temporary stands had broken in half. Some of the broken L-brackets had rusted and others were cracked.

The stand was about one metre high and about 50 metres long.

Each segment was supported by three brackets, one at each end and another in the middle. In one segment, two of the three support brackets had broken, which caused the stand to drop at one end.

The other areas with broken brackets remained level as they were supported by the brackets that remained intact.

The temporary stand was erected on the speedway track, inside the fence.

Mr McSweeney said no one was hurt when the stand broke.

He said the breakage happened during the second half of the game on Saturday.

After it happened, the couple of hundred young people who were sitting there were moved to other areas of the stadium.

"It's a kids area, in front of the main stand," he said.

"I didn't see it happen but a lot of kids were sitting there when a couple of bracing brackets broke. No one was hurt but the event staff decided to shift everyone for safety reasons."

Mr McSweeney said it was the first time the stand had been used this year.

He said the temporary stand had been used at Baypark for longer than he had been there, which was two and a half years.

"They've been used for quite some time. They're generally put up at rugby games and stored out the back when the speedway season is on."

When asked if the stand was put together incorrectly, Mr McSweeney said the stand was already assembled.

"It comes as is. We don't have to assemble them we just have to put them in.

"When you put them up, you expect them to be in a good condition so we have to examine this very closely," he said.

'Something unusual has happened and our main concern is to reverse the problem before the next game, and that's about in a month's time."

Looking ahead, Mr McSweeney said Baypark staff would look very closely at the broken supports to determine why they suddenly snapped.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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