The public submissions window for the proposed Regional Sports Park closes on Friday. But how informed can submissions be when some of the most important background information is not available?

Several dozen megabytes of material have been posted on the HDC website. From this, I know such crucial facts as there will be about 584 parking spaces, and the grandstand will face southeast so as to mitigate potential glare in the eyes of freezing spectators.

But here’s what I really want to know …

1. How much will initial construction of the facility cost? Where will that money come from? And how will the ongoing operating costs be met?

  • We’re told maybe $50-$55 million to build. But not to worry … Sam Kelt will find the money. If there is $50 million floating out there, how about asking us what else we’d rather spend it on?
  • We’re told it’s a regional facility … but I hear officials in Napier saying “Maybe a cycling velodrome, but our other local Napier sports facilities are just fine … and a bike ride away, thank you!”
  • We’re told a “commercial arm” will ensure that operating costs are “rates neutral.” Yeah right! No detail is given on what these commercial revenues might be. Sounds as well-examined as Splash Planet was.

Hellllooo! Mr. Finance Chair, Wayne Bradshaw, where are you? You were elected to protect us from this kind of budgetary BS.

2. What exactly is the need?

From the documents, it looks like someone at HDC had the bright idea to build a monument to sports in Hawke’s Bay. Then Sam Kelt jumped on board and blessed the idea. And then it was laid out before the various sports groups like an ice cream sundae.

Kind of like asking a kid if he’d like a second scoop!

Only now, with all this momentum behind the proposal, is HDC getting around to asking the non-sporties what they think.

3. Why carve 28 hectares out of the irreplaceable Heretaunga Plains?

The “logic” of the official documents is particularly tortured on this one. Only a seasoned bureaucrat could come up with a case. The argument has all the intellectual integrity of … hey, tennis courts and athletic fields are open space, after all.

Then there’s the obesity justification: We’re too fat. Must be producing too much food in HB. Let’s take some of our best land out of production by building a sports park. We get a two-fer … less growing and more exercise. Brilliant … using our rural land to fight obesity!

Here’s another two-fer. How about if we just downsize the sports park, deconstruct Splash Planet, and build the sports park there? Much more convenient. We can all bike over. We’ll still have only one money-losing entertainment venture. And we can call it Sports Planet.

Tom

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