Sure, we ‘d expect the sports codes to line up behind the proposed sports park. After all, when does a kid turn down candy and ice cream? (In fact, even with all the promised goodies, local sports activists are quite divided.)

Likewise, one might expect the Chamber to endorse enthusiastically a huge capital investment project that claimed to deliver jobs, tourists, growth, blah, blah to the region … and be financially self-supporting too.

Who would expect the HB Chamber of Commerce to be critical? Yet critical they are! You can read here their skeptical submission on the sports park.

Unfortunately for Lawrence and Sam, the Chamber — like the rest of us who have studied the purported “case” for the sports park closely — worries that the proposal rests on very shaky assumptions and analysis.

So, they support the sports park “in principle” but emphasize that their support is “conditional” on: a) the project not costing the Council more in capital costs than we have been promised; and b) confirmation that ongoing operating costs will not fall back on the ratepayer.

And that’s the “faint praise” part. Then the Chamber submission proceeds to pick apart the flimsy logic of the proposed plan, leaving little doubt about whether their conditions will indeed be met. Here’s just a taste …

“However we have major issues with elements of what is proposed which from our reading of the proposal have evolved out of a limited planned feasibility assessment — rather, council seems to have grasped at a variety of components with little real assessment of need and especially hardnosed economic rationale. In effect the council seems to have back filled the justification for stages 2 & 3 rather than to have built them up on regional priorities. The fact that other local government partners are so far reluctant to commit any funding is an indication of this untidy logic. This is exacerbated by Napier City’s higher priority being for MacLean Park — and we support that project given its national and international standing. We are concerned about the due diligence that should go into any council investment. The Cormilligan Report notes this concern. Further, the Cormilligan Report then does not consider real options, including other sites which may be more cost effective, such as the intensifying use of existing venues in Hawke’s Bay which may be a better use of limited available funds.”

From here, the Chamber launches into six pages of detailed critique of the proposal, aiming at the heart of its financial and economic assumptions.

It’s great to see the Chamber stand for more than business boosterism. This submission reflects a strong commitment to financial and analytic integrity, a conservative approach to rates increases in a faltering economy, and a pointed endorsement of genuinely regional planning of major facilities.

If you are “on the fence” with respect to the sports park, read this submission!

Then go here to send a message to Mayor Yule.


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