Landlord pulls pin on indoor sports centre

By Joseph Aldridge

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The owner of a pay-for-play indoor sports centre has been locked out of the stadium he leases after falling nearly $90,000 behind in rent.

Mount Action Centre principal Andrew Templer said his business has been undercut by ratepayer-subsidised sports leagues at the $40 million TECT Arena, placing his own $400,000 business investment in jeopardy.

However, the Tauranga City Council said the sports leagues are not subsidised by ratepayers and are run to make a profit.

Mr Templar took over the lease at the stadium when the TCC's indoor sports groups moved out and into their new premises at Bay Park late last year.

Due to delays in getting the stadium fitted out for the new business, Mr Templar fell four months behind in rent payments.

On Facebook, Mr Templer said yesterday the council had caused the delays because they viewed his business as a competitor.

The council's contractor Tauranga Leisure had further upped the ante by running social sports leagues at TECT Arena at a much cheaper price than he was able to, he said.

"So how could we compete? They have gone from two nights to four nights a week and can run it at under half the price we can. You win, we lose. I guess it was going to happen.

"It was obvious to us right away that we were not going to get our team numbers up as much as we hoped because the TECT Arena is so much cheaper (that's right, they don't need to make a profit, ratepayers will cover the shortfall)."

However, TCC recreation relationships manager Kiri Pope said while some sporting activities at TECT Arena attracted ratepayer subsidies, social sports leagues run by Tauranga Leisure were not among them.

While she was not sure of the exact rates being charged to play in sports leagues at TECT Arena, Ms Pope said the rates had increased since the sports had moved to TECT Arena.

Tauranga Leisure were charged with providing a profit to the council, she said.

"The key thing is council has been running these social sports leagues since 2000 so it's not a new situation and we were really clear before we moved to TECT Arena that we were going to continue running these management-run sports leagues."

Ms Pope also rebutted Mr Templer's assertion that council had stopped him from fitting out the stadium while it lay empty and unused.

The council's lease ended on November 30, 2011. While most sports were able to be moved to the TECT Arena earlier, inline hockey was not and so they remained at the stadium until the end of the lease.

Mr Templer said the centre's closure would affect about 1000 people in 120 teams, including Tauranga Hockey, cricket clubs and two boys who were using the centre's cricket nets to train for the junior world indoor cricket championships which are in South Africa in two weeks' time.

The only way to re-open the centre was finding a business partner to invest, he said.

Mr Templer said the landlord, Doug Owens, had been reasonable but had been forced to shut the centre until further investment was found.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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