Hamilton is pricing itself out of the community sports market by charging more than neighbouring areas, according to city sports groups.
The Waikato Volleyball Association has considered moving its games to Auckland and Netball Waikato says it holds tournaments in Te Awamutu, 30 minutes away, because there's nowhere suitable in Hamilton.
Volleyball Association president Dave Macpherson said it costs $1000 more to hold a competition running over 100 hours in Hamilton than at comparable venues elsewhere in Waikato. It was also more expensive than Tauranga, Rotorua and Auckland.
Mr Macpherson, who is also chairman of the Hamilton City Council finance and audit committee, said courts at the city's schools and community centres were the most expensive.
Mr Macpherson said Hamilton venues were not as well equipped as the Otara Recreation Centre in South Auckland but charged at least 10 per cent more.
The council-owned Te Rapa Sportsdrome was the city's cheapest venue but was unsuitable because it had a floor covered in rubber and condensation so bad that there were "clouds in the air" and players slipped on the floor.
"Hamilton is the most expensive place for indoor recreation ... We've even contemplated playing all our games up in Otara and wearing the travel costs. The problem is the teams from Bay of Plenty can't really do that but we can do it more easily."
Sport Waikato chief executive Matthew Cooper said sporting groups had told him it was cheaper to play sports outside the city and the facilities were better.
"The trend coming through is the cost of sport instead of being affordable is now getting to the stage it's beyond the means of the local community."
Netball Waikato regional manager Ben Sinnamon said netball had no other choice but to pay the price. Netball held most of its tournaments at the Te Awamutu Events Centre because it offered the best value for money.
Hamilton's indoor court shortage dates back a decade.
Last year the cash-strapped city council decided against funding a $22 million indoor recreation centre for the next 10 years, but set aside funds to address the condensation issue at Te Rapa Sportsdrome in the 2012/13 financial year.
The volleyball association is hoping the council will also consider spending about $800,000 to install a wooden floor to make it suitable for competitions.
Hamilton City Council general manager Lance Vervoort said the council had compared its venues against a range of other indoor centres and found the prices to be "mid-range".
Cost (per court inc GST):
* Otara Recreation Centre$25
* Hamilton Boys' High $34.50
* Tauranga TECT Arena$25
* Rotorua Girls' HS Arena$22.52
Other Hamilton venues
* Fraser High School$36.42
* Fairfield College$34.50
* Hillcrest High School$57.50
* Sportsdrome$27.60 (rubberised)
* YMCA $31.93 (plus $500 bond) (Costs as provided to Waikato Volleyball Association).