Mitigating risk as the Omicron virus continues to spread has prompted the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel to change venues for two of its ANZ Premiership home games this season.
Steel’s round three fixture against the Robinhood Stars in Dunedin on 27 March and round six clash with the MG Mystics in Queenstown on 17 April will now be played at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.
Steel chief executive Lana Winders said it was imperative the team provided a protective environment.
“In these challenging times we are faced with making difficult decisions and this one was made with a lot of angst,” she said.
“Ultimately, we have a responsibility to our players, the wider competition and our community. Our team is not the only factor in this equation, we also have to consider opposition teams, ANZ Premiership staff, Sky crews – there’s a lot at stake.”
Netball New Zealand and Sky were supportive of the teams request to move the games.
Winders said the focus was on limiting travel commitments where practicable.
“We have to protect our safe bubble which has been established here in Invercargill where our team is based,” she said.
“Dunedin has Covid rushing through it and the reality is it’s just too risky.”
With crowds severely restricted under the current red setting, Steel’s ticketing revenue would take a significant hit this season.
“The costs involved in relocating the entire team to other locations has to be a consideration for us.”
This season was scheduled to be the ANZ Premiership’s Queenstown debut.
“It’s very much a case of ‘we need to walk before we can run’. It would have taken a mammoth effort to get a new venue to a standard where we could run a live broadcast,” Winders said.
“We were absolutely willing to do that if we could bring in a bumper crowd of eager Steel fans but the red light setting forced us to re-evaluate if there was any real benefit for the community or the team. We’ve already got our work cut out for us navigating the restrictions and different approaches now needed this season.”
Steel’s clash against the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse in Dunedin on 9 May remains unchanged.
“We will continue to monitor the situation. If we are able to have games with full crowds at any stage this season, we are committed to playing one of those in Dunedin,” Winders said.
For further information, contact:
Kate Buchanan - 021 292 1660