Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Council moves to calm Magic's concerns

Claudelands Event Centre. Photo / File.
Claudelands Event Centre. Photo / File.

Claudelands Event Centre bosses say there is nothing wrong with the second-hand court at Claudelands Arena, in the wake of harsh public criticism from the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic netball team.

The Magic management this week labelled the floor dangerous, saying it could put their players' safety at risk and had "dead spots" which took the bounce off the ball.

Magic wanted to move Monday's sudden-death playoff against the Adelaide Thunderbirds to Tauranga's TECT Arena. But netball chiefs across the Tasman insisted the match be played at Claudelands, which has greater capacity.

Claudelands' director of business development and marketing, Murray Jeffrey, said the council, owner of the $69.5 million event centre, didn't accept there was a problem with the floor.

The Hamilton City Council refused to answer questions, until Mayor Julie Hardaker got involved and its events economic development general manager Sean Murray later confirmed an inspection of the floor this week had found it was in good condition.

Following the Magic's criticisms, an "independent expert" whose firm supplied the sprung floor inspected it and ruled out any faults with the floor or how it was laid. The concrete base the floor sits on was also deemed "equally sufficient for the task".

Earlier defects with the concrete floor, first raised by the Breakers basketball team last year, have been ground down and complaints had stopped until this week's grumble from the Magic.

Council management was now puzzled and did not know how to fix the "perceived issue" by Monday night's playoff between the Magic and the Thunderbirds.

"I would certainly take players' safety on board and it's a concern to us ... but the advice we're getting is it's performing to standard. It's per-forming to where it should be. That's at odds with how the players are feeling."

Mr Murray, tasked with making Claudelands a success, said while they didn't want to lose the Magic, there were "lots of other events there".

However Magic chief executive Sheryl Dawson said she first raised their concerns about the floor after the Magic played against the Southern Steel last month.

Netball New Zealand chief executive Raelene Castle said five games, including ANZ Championship games, had been played at Claudelands in the past month and they had passed on a "couple of small concerns" from athletes about some "dead spots" that stopped balls bouncing off the surface as quickly as they should.

She believed the floor just needed more time to settle. "The venue has been fantastic. They've been very keen to make sure the venue is performing at its highest possible levels."

Meanwhile, ticket sales for Monday's night game were going well and organisers expected the 4200 seat venue to be sold out. An extra 150 seats could be added.

FLAWED FLOOR?

* Claudelands Arena's sprung floor was purchased second-hand from Singapore's 2010 Youth Olympics for $150,000.

* The Breakers basketball team raised concerns about "black spots" in the floor in September 2011.

* Council promised to have the problem fixed by grinding down raised parts of the concrete floor at the end of February and staff said this week that had been completed.

* Magic lost its argument this week to move the semifinal from Claudelands because the floor was dangerous.

* The latest expert advice says the floor meets regulations.

- NZ Herald

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