John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Uni buys into sports centre

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The NZ Women's Sevens team, including Tauranga player Portia Woodman, were among the first to try out the new High Performance Sports Centre.
The NZ Women's Sevens team, including Tauranga player Portia Woodman, were among the first to try out the new High Performance Sports Centre.

Tauranga's new High Performance Sports Training Centre at Blake Park will get a $1.3 million injection of funds from the University of Waikato as part of a proposed strategic partnership deal.

It included the council-controlled company Bay Venues Ltd getting $300,000 in exchange for granting the university signage rights for five years, naming rights for 15 years and the right to be the centre's exclusive tertiary education partner and research provider for 15 years.

Details of the deal were outlined to the Tauranga City Council this week before it approved Bay Venues entering stage one of the partnership deal with Waikato University.

But, instead of the remaining $1 million being an interest-free loan, council legal advisors want the university to invest the money as equity in a proposed new joint venture company that would manage the sports training centre, and own the lease agreements and some chattels.

The building would continue to be owned by Bay Venues and the land by the council.

Council city transformation team member Tracy Plane said it was her understanding that the university was comfortable with taking equity in the company and sharing the losses, if that ever happened.

Existing tenants of the building were the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, New Zealand Rugby Union Sevens and Body in Motion physiotherapy and sports medicine.

Her report to the council said the principles of the strategic partnership were not legally binding and were for discussion only. "Once the terms have all been agreed, a strategic partnership will be formed."

Stage two of the partnership called for the sports training centre to be split off from Bay Venues and put into a joint venture company to manage the facility. It would still function as a council-controlled organisation. The council would need to give the go-ahead by March 31 next year, with Bay Venues owning half of the joint venture called NewCo.

Centre manager Justine Brennan said, after the meeting, that the university would open a purpose-built laboratory and high-tech environmental chamber inside the laboratory.

Athletes would be able to acclimatise to conditions in other parts of the world by setting the two-person chamber to different degrees of heat and humidity.

University senior vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones said the partnership built on the institution's long commitment to the Bay of Plenty. It was currently leading development of a tertiary campus in Tauranga's CBD. Work has started on the 265sq m space in the high performance centre to be occupied by the university.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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