By now the news has spread that Hastings has not made the short list as a potential site for an indoor North Island velodrome. The finalists are Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North.
While velodrome enthusiasts surrounded the Hastings proposal with heaps of promotional fluff, it’s not surprising that a proposal that didn’t meet some of the most basic requirements set forth for the facility — such as ‘Olympic’ seating capacity and access to an international airport — would not make the cut. Simply, the velodrome SPARC wants is beyond the reasonable financial means of our ratepayers.
In Hawke’s Bay, we should treat this as an opportunity … an opportunity to re-group and re-think our regional sport priorities.
As we have previously written (here and here), there appears to be a significant — and growing — gap between the appetite of sport enthusiasts for facilities and operating subsidies and the region’s ability to feed those competing mouths.
The clamour over the sports park and its sucking in of resources has taken the community’s eye off the ball … fashioning an affordable long-term sports strategy for the region — one that serves the recreation and exercise needs of all segments of our population — with genuine buy-in from competing sport codes, average ratepayers with differing sport affinities (as well as non-sport priorities), and competing local jurisdictions.
Constantly BayBuzz hears from folks around the region who want better community swimming facilities, a competitive rowing venue, more playing fields or upgraded facilities for this or that sport, more financial support to meet the operating costs of this or that code, more playgrounds close to where kids live. Now is the time to inventory all of those needs and aspirations, sort and price them out, and decide what the region wants most and can actually afford.
Meantime, full speed ahead with implementing the grassroots cycling (and walking) programs that have already won such considerable outside funding support.
By one measure, taking the velodrome off the table frees up nearly $15 million in funding from the Hastings, Regional and Napier Councils that was earmarked for that facility … plus it takes Unison off the hook for a $1 million sponsorship … plus it means that other trusts and corporates will not be chased for ‘external’ velodrome funding.
That’s a considerable pot of resources that can be redeployed to service a genuine regional sport strategy … or simply left in ratepayer wallets.
That’s the choice we now have … presenting a real opportunity for the community (and not just sport codes) to engage.