Editorial: Stadium plan thumbs nose at financial responsibility

By Annemarie Quill

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My handbag is too small. I want a Deadly Ponies deer skin tote. It would put me on the map as handbags go. I should have invested in one years ago.

What a missed opportunity.

Now I will never have one as I cannot afford it. It wouldn't be fair on my kids who would end up paying for it as they would miss out on something.

I have just relegated it to dreams and will go shopping for a cheaper one.

I should invite Mayor Stuart Crosby along as he could do with a financial reality check.

His out-of-the-blue idea for a new sports stadium on the downtown's Domain has got the city talking.

At least Mr Crosby has achieved his aim of launching a public conversation, which is a good thing.

While most in the city would agree that a huge downtown sports stadium in Tauranga would be awesome, alongside the bigger five to 10-year plan to rejuvenate the CBD, who is going to pay for it? Not just the due diligence and building but its expensive upkeep?

Councillor John Robson's comment that the council is "not exactly flush with cash" is a huge understatement.

The council is in debt to the tune of $380m.

A bank would only lend the funds on a securitised basis if the business case stacks up.

This seems unlikely.

The Chiefs moved out of the Bay because Taranaki bought into the Chiefs' franchise, not because of inadequate stadiums.

The mayor says all the money doesn't have to come from the events.

Where will it come from? Sausage sizzles? A collection at the door?

How about upping the toll road for all the visitors who come to see the game.

Hang on, that toll road is not paid for yet.

With the council's dire financial state a priority, there are also other pressing matters it needs to address - with flooding, a downtown hotel and conference centre, affordable housing, Route K, improving roading and public transport, and sea lettuce to name but a few.

If he believes this debate is important to have, why did he not lay it on the table as an election issue?

When there are more pressing issues for the city as a whole the mayor seems to be following his own pipe dream - which some could argue is a marginal one.

A reader contacted me to express frustration from the arts community who cannot believe a centre the size of Tauranga still does not have a museum, a facility that can be used 365 days a year by all sectors of the community, locals and tourists, and that the "jock mentality" of councillors who moan about funding the Art Gallery and libraries, creates an uneven playing field between arts and sports.

The time to build a sports stadium was years ago.

If the council didn't think Baypark was up to it, it should never have purchased it.

What is done is done and there is a stadium less than an hour away at Rotorua that is adequate for the region's sporting needs.

Let's improve existing facilities, build on what we have, not what we don't have.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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