In a daring and visionary shift in strategy, Lawrence Yule, chairman of the Regional Sports Park Trust, has decided to abandon hockey as the anchor sport for the Park’s future.
In a post-deadline emergency LTP submission (secret because of “commercial sensitivities” but leaked to BayBuzz), the Trust has thrown in the
towel stick on its $3.4 million proposal to build an international hockey turf at the sports park.
Instead, the Trust will propose a world-class jousting field with supporting amenities, costly only $2.5 million.
Says Mayor Yule: “We were approached by the International Jousting Federation, which has made a convincing case that jousting is the sport of the future. Apparently the Chinese love it. Right here in New Zealand, we already have 23 competitive jousters, many of them from Central Hawke’s Bay, and that number is projected to grow astronomically over the coming decade as sport enthusiasts look for the greater excitement of blood sports. I have visions of an International Jousting and Swordplay Academy. We see ourselves trading up … a big, sturdy lance that can inflict mortal wounds for a little stick that nicks ankles.”
BayBuzz is told the Federation has promised that at least two international jousting competitions per month would be held at the new facility, assuming it is built to international standards (which include blue turf for TV purposes and to deter horses from eating the artificial grass) and a by-law is enacted permitting unlimited sales of ale at the venue. International jousting competitions are known to draw competitors and spectators numbering in the tens of thousands, second only to Formula 1 racing.
Trust chief executive Jock Macintosh commented: “We think there are terrific synergies here between Horse of the Year and the jousting investment. Obviously both involve horses and expensive caravans. And the traveling entourages associated with jousting are even larger, what with all those ladies-in-waiting, blacksmiths, wenches and squires. We think the community will really buy into the spectacle, dressing up for the occasion … jousting will make Art Deco look like a kids costume party!”
“And think of the job opportunities. Right now, we’re working with EIT on a new apprentice program in armour fabrication,” he continued.
Every council’s favourite economist, Sean Bevin, puts the total lift to the region’s GDP at close to $1 billion per annum. “The economic multipliers are a bit more technical to calculate on jousting (for example, the impact on local costuming, tent rental, and armour industries), so I’ve erred on the conservative side,” he noted.
“There’s no question that jousting can become the lifeblood of the sports park,” said Yule, adding, “It really will … I promise.” He noted that Hawke’s Bay’s jousting fraternity is entirely unified around the new LTP proposal, “unlike the ugly and disappointing dissension that has arisen within our region’s hockey community.”
Yule indicated that HDC would seek special consideration to revise its own LTP submission to the Regional Council, which sought $2.5 million for a hockey turf. “It’s just a shell game; it won’t matter to them how we waste their money,” he observed. Asked about Napier’s reaction, he responded: “Hastings … big stick; Napier … little stick.”
Observed disappointed hockey turf advocate Bruce Mactaggart: “What next … marbles?”