Last tournament for evicted club

Against the wall . . . University of Otago Squash Club president Jayden Millard is searching for the club's new home after it was asked to leave its premises on campus in North Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The University of Otago Squash Club in North Dunedin has been served an eviction notice.

The club’s three-day tournament, starting today, will be its last at the premises, which has been home to the club for more than 50 years.

Club president Jayden Millard, of Christchurch, said the university gave the club a notice to permanently leave its premises in Union St by the end of the year.

“It’s sad.”

The reason given for the need to leave the premises, which houses the club’s three courts, upstairs viewing gallery, bar, kitchen, and changing rooms, was a damaged roof.

Any damage to the roof had not been affecting any part of the club’s operation in any way, Mr Millard said.

The university had told the club it was too costly to repair the building.

The club was unaware of any plans the university had for the premises or the land.

“I’m guessing it’s not for squash . . . All we know is we have to be out by the end of December.”

The club opened in 1968 and had about 140 members – about half were competitive members and the rest were social.

Team photos are hung on the walls in the lounge bar, including a photo of a men’s team from the early 1970s – the squad members sporting long sideburns and holding wooden racquets and the National C Grade Team Shield.

Flanking the image are photo collages of members dancing, singing karaoke and wearing fancy dress.

The members were a “variety” of students, university staff and members of the public.

The club’s three-day Back to School University Squash Tournament starts today and would be the final competition in the premises.

More than 110 players from across New Zealand had entered the tournament, Mr Millard said.

“It’s pretty big.”

The club was searching for new premises to lease and call home.

A university spokeswoman said the Otago University Students’ Association gave the building to the university “because the building was suffering from age and disrepair and OUSA didn’t wish to invest further funds into it as a result”.

As a condition of the gift, OUSA asked the university to maintain the building for 12 months ending December 31 this year and the university agreed to do that, she said.

The university was considering a range of options for the future use of the building and land.

When asked if the university was working with the club to ensure its more than 50-year history continued, she replied: “Yes, by spending money on keeping the building operational for 12 months so the club can continue operating and has time to find other premises”.

An OUSA spokeswoman said the association never owned the land the building sat on, only the building.

“Due to this we were very limited in what could be done with the building itself.”

The building was in need of extensive repairs, not just the roof, she said.

“All options were carefully considered when deciding on a course of action.”

The club was part of the discussions, she said.

“We negotiated with the university to keep the building open as long as possible, and 12 months was agreed on.

“We continue to work with students to help them make the transition to another club.”