$50k events centre study on agenda

By Lawrence Gullery

Hastings District councillors meet today to decide whether they should spend $50,000 on a feasibility study to show if a multi-functional entertainment and events centre could be built on the outskirts of the city.

The study will look at the viability of moving Hawke's Bay Racing, in the middle of the city, over to the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds and Elwood Park, north of Hastings.

It could result in a venue which would host the racing centre, Hawke's Bay A and P Society, Hastings Rugby and Sports Club and Hawke's Bay Polo. The proposed development site includes neighbouring land owned by Drillers Poultry Farm.

Council staff would provide a brief at today's meeting, outlining what was expected from the person or organisation to be selected to head the feasibility study.

"Advice is also required on the potential ownership models, usage agreements and commercial feasibility, including potential funding opportunities arising from the establishment of a multifunctional entertainment and events centre," the brief said. Options for the Hawke's Bay Racing land would be part of the study, which would require advice on subdivision issues and whether parks could be incorporated with new housing developments, and the value of the site.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the possible use of the racecourse land would also be subject to a separate study by council staff and further work by Hawke's Bay Racing.

Hawke's Bay Racing expected it could sell the 14-hectare property for more than the $12 million value recorded on its books.

The feasibility study would also have to look at future opportunities for the combined site to establish a major equestrian centre to support the Horse of the Year event, and other activities which could add to the region's economic value.

The proposal was announced by Mr Yule in July, along with representatives of Hawke's Bay Racing, the society and sports groups from Elwood Park. At the time, Mr Yule said he expected the feasibility study would take about three months to complete.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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