Hawke's Bay is close to signing its first annual international sports tournament which could begin April 2014, if funding is achieved to build a new tier 1 hockey turf by the end of September.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council meets tomorrow to decide whether to release the $2 million set aside for the Hawke's Bay Sports Park Trust to build a new $3.6 million international hockey facility at the regional sports park on the outskirts of Hastings.
The trust said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to host an annual six-to-eight nation international women's hockey tournament at the new venue.
The event would be called The Hawke's Bay Cup and hosting rights would be for 10 years, subject to review every two years.
The trust had a MOU with the Hawke's Bay Sports Events and Education Consortium Incorporated which in turn had an MOU with Hockey New Zealand. Full agreement was due by September 30 and if it was not achieved, a local turf, instead of an international one, would be built.
The consortium comprised a group of Hawke's Bay business people who would underwrite the event and have management rights. The consortium included people involved in the pre-Olympic sponsorship of the Black Sticks men's and women's hockey teams.
Sports park trustee and Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he was "70 per cent to 80 per cent" confident work on constructing an international turf would begin in early October.
"We are really close to signing the tournament but it hinges on a number of decisions over the coming weeks. The first is the regional council decision.
"If we achieve that, we will have the money to build the hockey turf and looking towards starting the international tournament in April next year."
Mr Yule said the regional council funding would trigger financial support from another major sponsor and the trust could raise the balance.
"We are under time frame pressure to make some decisions in order to build the facility so it can be used in April.
The tender for the work has gone out, we know what it costs to build, and there has been a lot of working going on in the background.
"We should not underestimate the opportunity this presents. We have had one-day cricket matches and other one-off sporting events but this will be the first time Hawke's Bay has hosted an annual, multi-year, international sports tournament."
The turf would be used by local competitions and meet demands for a hockey park in Hastings. The only other place to play the sport was at Park Island in Napier.
Mr Yule said the trust needed to accommodate the extra traffic accessing the regional sports park and this could mean opening up Percival Rd to offer an alternative road into the park.
"That's going to happen in the next couple of years. And the next project on the plan for the sports park is around a central building, something we will look at doing in five years."