The case for a sports stadium

A new sports stadium would eliminate the need for temporary grandstands at Tauranga Domain. Photo: Chris James.

If you’ve travelled along Cameron Road in the centre of Tauranga recently you may have noticed a monument to the chronic municipal inertia we face in this city.

A large temporary scaffolding grandstand structure has been erected in the Tauranga Domain to cater for the Bay of Plenty Steamers home rugby games.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers says while it is an investment in the right space, it comes at an onerous cost.

“It’s a significant investment that we make,” Mike says. “We certainly don’t make money off these games – we lose money off holding games at Tauranga Domain – but we know we have to play our part in hopefully demonstrating that people want good sporting events in the city. So that’s why we do it.

“It is a massive logistical challenge but we know it’s the right thing to do and hopefully we demonstrate that with some fantastic games, great crowds, and feedback from businesses on The Strand that there are benefits for them.”

All this has become necessary since it became obvious ASB Baypark Stadium wasn’t the answer, Mike says.

“The evidence is pretty clear. You have a game at Tauranga Domain and we’re attracting 5000-odd people, and then you go to Baypark where we were attracting 1000 people. So I think in terms of the facility our community spoke.”

Three years ago the Civic Amenities Group, a collective of successful Tauranga business people lead by property developer Paul Adams, attempted to get some action happening on a range of city assets, including a stadium.

Their plans used innovative funding arrangements which would avoid dumping additional debt on ratepayers. It soon became apparent to them, however, that the Tauranga City Council wasn’t prepared to listen to their proposals.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless says that wouldn’t be the case now, though.

“Oh no, we would definitely listen, no problem. But we haven’t had any formal approach. Since I’ve been here I’ve not been asked about it at all.”

Greg says council certainly isn’t driving anything forward on it.

“But if somebody can look at funding this, at making sure it actually works and doesn’t turn out to be a millstone, then that’s fine.

“I’m always open to ideas, especially from people who put their own money up. I’m just very cautious because of the financial implications.”

City councillor Max Mason is in no doubt where the fault lies for the lack of amenities in Tauranga, of which a stadium is a prime example. Years of chronic underfunding is the culprit, he says, and it’s all caught up with us.

“And I think that’s a shame. We’ve got so much going for us, with the natural beauty and the really good attitude among the people. There’s a real buzz about Tauranga and there’s a lot of optimism, and yet we can’t seem to get our act together in terms of providing what you might call the social infrastructure.

“That’s the balance. While a lot of people just want the horizontal infrastructure – the roads and the pipes and all the rest of it – I think building community is more than just traffic and pipes, it’s about people.”

Max says while it’s not council’s job to throw unlimited ratepayer funds at infrastructural projects, it is council’s role to get things moving.

“We’re not there to make friends, we’re there to make a difference.”

Max agrees with Greg that buy-in across various sectors of the community will be necessary to get it off the ground.

“We don’t have anything in the long-term plan for a stadium. Anything that does happen in that space has got to be a partnership between private sector, community trusts, and council entities, and indeed the regional council as well.”

Max and Greg both feel the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, with its hugely valuable shareholding in the Port of Tauranga, would be an obvious source of cash.

“If there’s going to be a stadium it has to be a regional stadium,” says Greg, “so that could be a potential source of funds. As Tauranga is the home of the port, it would be good to give something back to the people here.”


9 Comments

Stadium

Posted on 11-09-2018 09:30 | By Raewyn

Most things are successful if the promotion is done correctly! If people want new sports stadium why dont Council utilize the old rubbish dump . Lots of land which would also provide plenty of parking.

Spin

Posted on 11-09-2018 08:24 | By rastus

I have no idea who writes up these ’spin’ stories but as so many have already pointed out we already have the perfect venue for large gatherings of people - you guys up there at the top try to convince us that you know what you are doing - (IMHO) you have a very long way to go just to catch up with commom sense

Before

Posted on 10-09-2018 16:51 | By Accountable

Anything is put into action there has to be a very good car parking plan in place. Council can’t continually block off streets whenever there is a game of some kind on at the Domain. It’s impossible to have 125 or more buses to transport the 5000 or more people who want to attend but don’t want to wait for hours before or after the games. The city urgently needs an additional two car parking buildings with a combined capacity of 1200 cars if the Domain is to become the sporting center of Tauranga.

Hear Hear

Posted on 10-09-2018 16:22 | By peecee09

The BOP Regional Council is exceptionally cash rich as a result of owning over 50% of the Port of Tauranga which showed an after tax profit exceeding 90 Million dollars last year. They seem hell bent on accumulating assets and putting our rates up yet again. They are absolutely the right source of funding for the assets the City badly needs.

Bureaucrats

Posted on 10-09-2018 15:10 | By rogue

Not a week goes by where Sunlive isn’t reporting on the incompetence of "our " City’s council . Sooner or later these old fogies should remember they are caretakers of the city... they don’t own it. Plan for the future for once instead always being 10 years too late.

More grabbers

Posted on 10-09-2018 14:09 | By Slim Shady

A stand does nothing for the community. A stand will not attract more people to watch your silly game. You just want everyone to subsidise your private club.

sports

Posted on 10-09-2018 13:39 | By dumbkof2

get the stadium outof town spend some money on baypark and make it a world class facility. plenty of room to expand and parking wont clog up the cbd. the only ones that want it in town are a few pub owners

Let’s Do This

Posted on 10-09-2018 13:16 | By Mommatum

Yes, I’ve borrowed the Prime Minister’s catchy phrase, because as the most unsporty person you could find I watched The All Blacks play in Nelson over the weekend and thought ‘If they can, Tauranga can.” With Mayor Brownless indicating a willingness to listen and Councillor Mason pointing to our optimism it’s time to get behind the idea of a decent sports stadium on the site of what is now Tauranga Domain. It is central, accesible even to those without cars and when there’s a game on like the recent Steamers fixture it brings people back to the CBD. We’re a city and part of that is providing city facilities. Now if Nelson can host The ABs even in a one off we can transform Tauranga Domain into a modern sports stadium, and make regular sports fixtures part of our local culture, maybe even the ABs oneday.Let’sdothisTauranga.

BayPark STADIUM

Posted on 10-09-2018 13:14 | By Dino

Tell me again what is wrong with the stadium that we already have? It doesn’t attract people? well whose fault is that? If people want to go to a game they will go anywhere. I personally have been to BayPark for Steamers games and find nothing wrong at all with the venue.....we need to utilize what we have got before we go wasting money on more "White Elephants"

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