This week the Hawke's Bay Regional Council released $2 million of funding for a proposed new hockey turf at the regional sports park on the outskirts of Hastings. Despite some controversy when the idea was first mooted, hosting rights are now being negotiated for a possible annual international women's hockey tournament in the Bay. We spoke to Sports Park Hawke's Bay chief executive Jock Mackintosh about what happens next.
1 What does the confirmation this week of $2 million in funding from Hawke's Bay Regional Council mean for the hockey turf project at Sports Park Hawke's Bay?
"The regional council's $2 million was terribly important. Other funding is contingent on getting the HBRC support so virtually all the funding is now confirmed. This is great because raising money, especially in this climate, is hard. We're also pleased to have their endorsement. All our funders have, quite correctly, put us through the hoops."
2 Why do you think ratepayers should help fund this project?
"If we get an annual 6-8 nations women's hockey tournament that's a great coup for New Zealand, let alone Hawke's Bay. But even if we don't get the international event, the region is in desperate need of a third turf. Currently we have 1100 players per turf and Hockey NZ guidelines suggest we should only have 650. Because the existing turfs are overstocked, players, often children, are forced to play late at night or very early in the morning. In my experience ratepayers endorse expenditure on sporting facilities as long as they are well used."
3 What do you believe is the likelihood of the international annual women's hockey tournament being confirmed and going ahead at the venue? What details can you provide on it at this stage?
"Virtually all of the work has now been tendered so we know we can build a fantastic international venue and we know we can fund it. Hockey NZ has invited the teams and Hawke's Bay is its preferred location. A consortium of Hawke's Bay companies, many of whom sponsored the Black Sticks at the Olympics, are doing final feasibility work on the event itself, so we're close. I'd say the chances are better than even."
4 If it doesn't go ahead, a local hockey turf will be constructed. What sort of usage will this receive and by who/what groups?
"It's actually more a regional turf than a local one. It will be used by players from Wairoa to Waipukurau. I'm absolutely confident that it will be well used. Even with the addition of the extra turf we will have more players per turf than Hockey NZ recommends. It won't just be hockey either. We also have interest from futsal and touch."
5 Can you explain what the differences are between the local and international aspects of the hockey turf?
"The turf itself is the same, but it's a great surface and is the same as that used at the London Olympics. If the international tournament is confirmed we will add an extra half turf, seating, two more changing rooms and brighter lights for night games. The important thing is that these facilities will be used throughout the year, not just during the tournament. The additional requirements are not that onerous because we already have many of the things that hockey's international body (FIH) requires. This includes substantial carparking, toilets, drug testing and first aid, sponsor and media areas."