With submissions filed and heard, the Hastings Council has begun its final debate over the proposed regional sports park.

Those submitting in favor of the park, almost to a person, were individuals with a substantial involvement in sport. Whereas opposition to the park has come from a broad spectrum of the community — senior citizens, environmentalists, business people, orchardists, individual ratepayers — including many with volunteer involvement in sports.

Based on lines of questioning during the hearings, body language, various snorts and grunts, and ladies’ room conversations (don’t ask), personally I put the current voting line-up at 6 For, 6 Against, 1 On the Fence (with two councillors not present at this time).

Not what I would call an overwhelming endorsement for a project that has been heavily promoted by some on the Council for over a year.

Now I won’t name names, because each of these individuals would insist that he or she is still weighing the arguments. The decision has been stalled as final pieces of information and analysis are gathered.

Proponents of the park argue this is a necessary step for addressing issues raised during submissions. Opponents argue this is a ruse, designed to buy some time for proponents to gain another vote or two.

So over the next week, the lobbying will be hot and heavy.

The “top gun” to be rolled out is Sam Kelt. He’s already making one-on-one overtures to Councillors, which isn’t quite what most Councillors had in mind when they asked to see Kelt Capital address their concerns about the proposal collectively in a public session.

I guess Sam believes in different strokes for different folks.

I’m disappointed that BayBuzz probably won’t get a personal briefing from Sam.

But I’m really looking forward to the public session, where I’m eager to hear him give odds on the Napier and Regional Councils anteing-up $6 million. Or tell us how he’ll raise scores of millions in an economy where the only loose change around seems to be going into dairy farming, World Cup sponsorships … or filling your fuel tank. To say nothing of his explanation of why the Chamber of Commerce is baffled by his operating cost and revenue assumptions.

It’s a performance that will require hard facts; not just heartwarming stories of reformed delinquents.

To some in the community, Sam is an alchemist. To others, more the Wizard of Oz.

Take your pick. Then place your bet in the $62 million Kelt Stakes.

Tom

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