$2m hockey turf funds hang in balance

By Lawrence Gullery

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Councillor Neil Kirton is worried about having two hockey turf centres.
Councillor Neil Kirton is worried about having two hockey turf centres.

A plan to build an international hockey turf in Hastings could fall over if the trust driving the project can't meet funding conditions by Monday.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council agreed it would not hand over the $2 million it earmarked for the project if the Hawke's Bay Sports Park Trust could not show it had achieved funding conditions before construction start date, October 1.

The council wanted a written agreement showing an annual international tournament, minimum five years, would be held at the new facility at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park on the outskirts of Hastings.

The funding would also not be released until there was evidence of an agreement between the trust, a private business funding group set up to support the project, and Hockey New Zealand, to stage the international tournament.

Regional councillors discussed the hockey turf at its meeting yesterday, reviewing the decisions its Corporate and Strategic Committee made on the project earlier in the month.

Councillor Neil Kirton said he was worried about having two hockey turf centres in the region, one in Napier and the proposed Hastings site. He also said it appeared the hockey fraternity was not united on the idea of splitting the sport between the two cities.

"My concern is in the absence of support for this project from the Hawke's Bay Artificial Surfaces Trust, that indicates support for this is not united.

"I can't see that being achieved before the potential start date of October 1, there's no way it can proceed on that basis, in that time."

The council agreed that if the conditions were not met by September 30, the $2 million would remain uncommitted.

Sports park trust chairman and Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he was confident the trust could meet the September 30 deadline.

He expected an announcement to be made next week, which would include the names of the teams signed up to compete at the international hockey tournament.

"We are working frantically on the agreement right now and it is all looking very positive ... we are moving towards that date." Mr Yule said he had a letter from Hawke's Bay Artificial Surfaces Trust in Napier which showed support for the new hockey facility in Hastings.

"I don't think people understand how important this is, we've never had an on-going international sports tournament in Hawke's Bay and this is going to be significant for the region."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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