Plans for a $78 million new performance venue up to three times the size of Baycourt have been put on ice by a council committee.

In a meeting this afternoon Tauranga City Council's City Transformation Committee voted unanimously not to put $40m capital funding for the project into the budget for the next decade, or to do a detailed business case - yet.

Councillors were keen on the idea of a larger venue, but said the city could not afford it right now.

Committee chairman Larry Baldock said the timing was the issue. The budget was already full of major capital infrastructure projects of greater priority.


"I do not feel we can responsibly advance this project at this time."

The committee resolved to review the project in 2021. They also decided to hang on to a piece of land earmarked for the venue at 91 Willow St. That property has a building on it that was due for demolition.

Baycourt manager Megan Peacock Coyle, who spoke to the committee in support of the new venue, told the Bay of Plenty Times that the committee's decision was not unexpected given the scale of work that needed to be done in the CBD, and the importance of the museum and library.

The new venue was recommended by consultants the council engaged to do an indicative business case.

The consultants, Horwath HTL, found there was a market gap for a new venue seating between 1500 and 1600 and a "window of opportunity" presented by high market demand for the kinds of productions a bigger venue could support.

Baycourt was so busy it regularly had to turn down both commercial and community shows, while bigger shows skipped Tauranga because Baycourt had only 582 seats and other technical limitations.

A new theatre would increase the range of performing arts and entertainment events Tauranga could host.

The council's portion of the $78m project would have been $40m, which would have had to come from a loan. The rest would have been sought from grants and other funding sources.