New centre hinges on $8m funding

By Lauren Owens

A crucial application to fund the planned $41 million sport and exhibition centre at Baypark was yesterday made to Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust.
The entire course of the project now hinges on the outcome of the submission made by Tauranga City Council for $8m.
If approved, it will be the largest amount ever granted by TECT since its inception in 1993.
The second highest was a $4m grant for Baywave.
The board must decide whether or not to grant the $6m, plus $2m in tax imputation credits.
If declined, it will leave a portion of the centre's funding with a major question mark that could result in lengthy delays and an increased pricetag.
The grandiose plans for the indoor stadium were revealed in detail yesterday by Frank Begley, Tauranga City Council's manager of the City Partnership Programme.
The plans were ready to go to tender with a completion date of May 2011, he said.
"The upside to the economy at the moment is that there will never be a more cost-effective time to build this facility,'' he said.
Working in harmony with the existing buildings and outdoor arena at Baypark, the new centre would add an extra nine indoor courts.
Divided into two court areas and a mezzanine, it would provide space enough for hundreds of local sports teams to play in the one location.
Currently, teams are often divided between the Mount Action Centre (MAC), Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre and the Aquinas College gym, meaning parents could spend their evening driving their children from one end of town to the other.
The benefit would not be reserved solely for sports teams, though.
Major concerts and the likes of the Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Festival could be hosted at the centre using the 3000 retractable seats.
Exhibitions such at The Bay of Plenty Times Home Show would be given a luxurious amount of space, while bids could be put in to host national and international sports tournaments.
Yesterday's meeting came with ominous warnings for the future of the city's current largest indoor sporting facility, Mount Action Centre.
Already at "saturation point'', the centre was set to close at the end of 2011, with the owners looking to lease it out to an industrial tenant.
Judy Castles, president of Western Bay Basketball Association, said the venue suffered from a leaking roof, lack of carparks, a poor location in an industrial area and an unsuitable floor.
Basketball teams with older members were unable to play on the rubber floor, while a sports event at the centre last year ended in a broken ankle and two broken arms.
Despite this, each week it hosted hundreds of sports teams and was a crucial venue for local sporting associations.
Stephen Town, the council's chief executive, said the end of the council's lease of MAC in 2011 would leave community sports groups without nearly enough court space.
"If we lose the MAC, which we are going to anyway ...

school halls aren't going to cater for a population of 115,000 that is considered to be a sporting community.''
The funding application to TECT has created controversy in recent months, with comments the community grants should not be given to council.
However, Tauranga City councillor Bill Faulkner argued the indoor stadium would be of major benefit to the community.
"To say it's a council project as if it was something exclusive, denies what this project is,'' he said.
There was an expectation and support in the community that the stadium would be built, after four years of discussion and planning in council, he said.
Ratepayers would contribute $25 million towards the $41 million price tag.
A further $7 million would come from fees paid by developers.
The Perry Foundation has also committed $1 million, leaving a remaining $8 million.
When asked if the decline of TECT funding would create a "tremor'' in the project going ahead, Mr Faulkner instantly responded, "yes''.
"From where I sit, your involvement is critical with this project.''
Members of the TECT board raised suggestions of giving the funding in two lots, and if the council had explored selling the naming rights.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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