Yesterday, at the precise time the Hastings Council was once again discussing its velodrome aspirations in public-excluded session, I was reading online the competing plans of the Auckland City Council. Here is the report prepared for the Auckland Council’s January 27 public meeting (see pp 131-155).

Hugely different Council views about transparency, it would appear! But that’s another matter.

Reading the Auckland plan, which contemplates a $35 million Cycling Centre of Excellence (CCE) and Multisport Facility, I was struck by some aspects of why that Council believes it has competitive advantage in its quest to win SPARC’s velodrome nod over places like Hawke’s Bay.

One. Auckland’s responsible operating and fundraising body, The Trusts Stadium, has a proven fundraising track record, having already raised $23 million for other parts of the complex in which the CCE would be embedded. And that’s money raised from authentic non-governmental (i.e., non-ratepayer financed) sources, unlike the Hastings Council ‘fundraising’ methodology, which counts expected ‘gifts’ from the Regional and Napier Councils (i.e., ratepayers).

Two. The Auckland velodrome would be embedded in a sports complex that already enjoys 500,000 plus users per year.

Three. SPARC wants the velodrome built and operational by 2013, so that the facility can train NZ cyclists athletes for the 2016 Olympics. Effectively, this means that the Hastings Council, were it to win the velodrome competition, would need to commence building the facility immediately, whether or not the oft-promised external funds had been raised in advance. Hastings (and potentially Napier and Regional Council) ratepayers will become the likely funders to meet this schedule, given the sports park’s lack of fundraising success to date. So much for ‘phases’ that only begin after all required external funds have been raised!

Fourth. According to SPARC’s specifications for the velodrome, the CCE should interact with existing high performance programmes for sports excellence. Auckland boasts such programmes for ocean water sports, swimming, hockey and yachting, as well as hosting the Millennium Institute of Sport & Health and AUT’s sports science programme.

Fifth. Auckland has a proven track record of hosting major cycling events — from the 1990 Commonwealth Games to the 2010 New Zealand BMX Championships. It will be hosting the National Criterium championships and the 2013 BMX Champs over the next few years.

Six. Also on SPARC’s evaluation criteria … access to an international airport. I suppose competitors could fly into Napier in private jets!

At this point, the Hastings Council and its ratepayers are locked into the stiff competition for a North island velodrome. Good luck HDC.

But I wonder whether we would be locked in today, if Councillors had taken the time, back when they should have, to really understand the strength of the competition … and had shared that information with the public.

Tom Belford

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