City councillors today have agreed to help pay for the $2.74 million lighting project for the Bay cricket oval at Blake Park.
While ratepayers will be giving a total of $915,000 in assistance to the project, ratepayers help in the coming financial year will be $150,000 plus $150,000 from Paul Adams’ Civil Amenities Group to get design and consenting rolling.
Funding for the Bay Oval cricket lights has been approved.
The lights for day/night games will not be required for the coming summer, but the one after, says CEO Garry Poole.
But New Zealand Cricket will not allocate international day/night games to grounds just on a promise of lights being available. It requires a demonstration of progress.
The lights will be ready for the 2018/19 cricket season, and will make Tauranga the fifth New Zealand city with a venue capable of hosting international day-night cricket games.
NZ Cricket advised Council that from season 2018/19 onwards, ODIs and T20s will only be played at venues with lights, and currently Auckland, Wellington, Napier and Hamilton are the four cricket grounds that have those facilities.
The original motion was for the council to allocate $915,000 in the 2016/17 annual plan which is being prepared for public consultation.
Most councillors were in favour and in spite of the opposition from Catherine Stewart and Rick Curach, councillors Bill Grainger and Leanne Browne voted in support stating they were persuaded by the discussion.
Catherine Stewart’s argument is that there are already lights at cricket grounds in Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Wellington, and she thought NZ Cricket was more likely to allocate games to a lighted South Island ground, rather than another in the North Island.
She was hoping to understand why Blake Park needed lights when there were only so many that would be able to see matches at the Bay Oval.
Mayor Stuart Crosby says it’s not the 10,000 people that will be able to be packed into a Bay Oval with temporary seating, it’s the views the television audience see.
But the numbers haven’t been investigated in depth and the results from the two daylight summer games will not be available for another month.
Steve Morris says the Blues rugby can attest to the difference in atmosphere from a packed small venue and an empty large venue.
John Robson wanted cash up front from the private funder. The amendment was discussed in detail and was about to fail when Mayor Stuart Crosby moved that the $300,000 for consenting and design be split public/private so there would be $150,000 from the 2016/17 annual plan with the remaining $750,000 coming in from the 2017/18 .