Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

$100m sport hub blueprint for city

Ateed CEO Brett O'Riley says the opportunity for Auckland in the sports sector is much greater than simply hosting large events. Photo / Chris Loufte
Ateed CEO Brett O'Riley says the opportunity for Auckland in the sports sector is much greater than simply hosting large events. Photo / Chris Loufte

Key figures in the billion-dollar sports industry are drawing up a strategy to make Auckland a global centre of sports innovation, training and science.

Driven by an Auckland Council agency, the strategy will explore ways to expand sports training, innovation, science and medicine.

It will also aim to seek foreign investments and lure world-leading kinesiotherapists, cryogenists and sports coaches here - which could give Auckland's economy a $100 million boost annually.

"Potentially, this strategy could see New Zealand's best athletes and coaches, who are now based overseas, return home and some of the world's best sports people move to Auckland," said Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development chief executive Brett O'Riley.

"With an estimated average Auckland growth of 6 per cent in the broad sports and medical space since 2009, and global growth in excess of 10 per cent annually, there is a significant opportunity for Auckland companies, with $100 million ...

in additional GDP by 2020 very achievable."

The strategy aims to turn Auckland into a world leader for high-performing sport training and technology businesses.

"The opportunity for Auckland in the sports sector is even greater than simply hosting large events," Mr O'Riley said.

Areas like sports nutrition, wearable sports technology and sports training were worth more than US$50 billion ($73 billion) - annually, with rapid growth predicted over the next decade, he said. "If Auckland is able to grow its market share even slightly ... there is huge potential for economic gains."

Mr O'Riley said a forum on Friday, jointly hosted by Callaghan Innovation and High Performance Sport NZ, would bring members of the sports industry together and provide an opportunity for sport technology companies to profile their innovations.

Six sport tech businesses will also be presenting their innovative new products and services.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said Ateed was right to focus on the opportunities that are on offer because sport was "big international business".

However the author of a 2009 report, "Sport and Cultural Diversity," criticised the Ateed approach as being "rather orthodox".

He said an "obvious opportunity" was for Ateed to help regional sports organisations to expand their appeal to diverse communities here, rather than look overseas.

A full financial feasibility report is expected by June.

Hi-tech dollars

Where $100 million annually for Auckland could come from

• Cryotherapy: the use of low temperatures, which start at or below -150C, to help athletes speed recovery and treat a variety of tissue damage.

• Kinesiotherapy: treatment to help enhance overall physical conditioning, and used to improve endurance, mobility and strength.

• Sports training: setting up sports academies similar to the world famous IMG Tennis Academy in Florida.

• Innovation: becoming a test bed for sports research and development.

- NZ Herald

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