The likelihood that the national road cycling championships will be held elsewhere next summer is a door-opener for entrepreneurial types pondering what other event can be converted to good use in the streets of Napier, and, for that matter, Hastings.

The event has had three successful years in Napier, raising it to a new level and creating some sort of impression that Napier, velodrome or no velodrome, might become the cycling capital of New Zealand.

It had established some of the appeal of the European cycle racing scene, Marine Parade and the inner city had appealed as a scene for some sort of criterium racing at least, and any sports buff, even those not aligned with cycling, as a sport, recreation or even as a mode of travel, could see the potential.

Simple fact is, however, that on one hand events which close city streets and impact on businesses on those street fronts, tend to have some limited life, unless they're providing a windfall to those very businesses, and on the other they tend to need something special to outlast the novelty.


Thus it is, as Cycling NZ chairman Tony Mitchell says, probably the right decision by the Napier City Council to let it go for a while, though in this case intending that the championships will return to the streets of Napier at another time.

Napier has had street sports events before, the longest-running in the city being the go-karts which bit the dust soon after redevelopment of Emerson St as a pedestrian precinct more than 20 years ago, roads around Clive Square were once resurfaced to make them suitable for roller skating's road race, there was motorbike racing around the Onekawa industrial district, and cars race around the streets near South Pond, Ahuriri.

The one that has lasted is IronMaori, as strong as ever after 10 years, with seemingly no bleating about any disruption with cyclists and runners taking to the road in their hundreds.

The issue now is whether something will fill the gap created by the cycling championships, as a holiday season event and attraction, in a beachfront city that deserves a bit of a carnival. Does the gap need filling, and, if so, with what?