Event centre plan put on hold

By Simon Hendery

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Mr Yule said an 'optimal solution' that met the needs of all the organisations that would use the facility had yet to be found. Photo / File
Mr Yule said an 'optimal solution' that met the needs of all the organisations that would use the facility had yet to be found. Photo / File

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule says the idea of a $35 million events centre at Showgrounds Hawke's Bay will probably need to go on hold for three to five years as plans are optimised and funding is found.

The council contributed $50,000 towards a report looking into the option of building a single events centre for the Hawke's Bay Show, horse racing and the Horse of the Year Show at the showgrounds and released the study yesterday.

It found that while the proposal would provide a "unique opportunity" for the region, further work was required to develop and expand the concept.

"The key objective of the feasibility study is to determine if and how the multiple stakeholders could co-exist across an enhanced shared site, considering both current and future needs," the report said.

"Through the process of consultation with stakeholders, a number of horse-racing track configurations and master-plan concepts have been explored.

This process has involved striking a balance between meeting individual stakeholder needs and desires, weighed against land acquisition, partnership arrangement, the overall total capital cost and therefore, the ultimate viability of the project."

Mr Yule said an "optimal solution" that met the needs of all the organisations that would use the facility had yet to be found.

On top of that, questions remained over financing the project - it would probably be funded by a combination of proceeds from race-course land sales, and council and central-government contributions. "In this current climate and with the pressure the council is under in terms of new things like [earthquake strengthening] the Opera House, I think it's really difficult for us to consider something as grand as this at the moment," Mr Yule said.

"While it's a great strategic project, I just don't think it fits in the current economic environment. I've suggested everybody keep working and looking at the optimal solution, so that we have got a solution [to implement] at some time in the future."

Mr Yule said he suspected it may be three to five years before the the timing was right.

His view is shared by the A & P Society. Society general manager Brent Linn told Hawke's Bay Today this week that while the feasibility study provided valuable information, the options it presented did not "provide an affordable, future proofed and optimal solution".

The society believed time may lead to a solution, he said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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