OPINION: Sport Manawatu chief executive Trevor Shailer clearly had his heart in the right place when he said the proposed Legends of Sport plaques were a way to provide the region's young people with hope and inspiration.
But the implementation of the project to date has left a lot to be desired in terms of its design and location.
Sport Manawatu is calling for the council to support the instalment of a series of small bronze plaques bearing the names of sporting legends, including Ian Ferguson, Chris Amon, Sam Strahan and Betty Steffensen, in The Square.
The idea of honouring Manawatu luminaries in a public space certainly has some validity but this plan seems more of an after-thought than a genuine attempt to provide a memorable focal point for our sporting heroes.
An earlier plan for the scheme, involving illuminated stainless steel panels, was rejected by councillors for being too garish and disrespectful to veterans, the inference being that such an ostentatious display would upstage the nearby more austere war memorial.
Councillor Duncan McCann's tongue-in-cheek comment about the new plaques being in the perfect place if he had eyeballs on his kneecaps aptly sums up just how much relevance having them lining an innocuous wall in The Square would likely have.
These do not seem like the type of monuments that will inspire our youth to reach the same heights as a Steffensen or a Strahan. They will likely be ignored and forgotten, which would be a waste of time and ratepayers' money.
But the biggest problem isn't the plaques' aesthetic; it's their location. There appears to be little or no reason why such a project would be located in The Square apart from the fact it's in the centre of the city.
Surely a more fitting place for the feature would be the council-owned Arena Manawatu complex - the home of Manawatu Rugby, basketball, speedway, premiere netball and a host of other sports.
The council has commissioned a review into ways to improve the Arena, with an upgrade to its Cuba St entrance, retractable seats for Arena 2 and extra backfield lighting some of the issues being investigated.
Arena Manawatu is a quality facility that not only caters for sport in our community but also acts as a venue for national tournaments, drawing visitors to the region and creating jobs.
Having the Legends of Sport plaques put there makes sense and would allow them to be designed to a level more befitting the stature of the legends they are representing.
- Manawatu Standard
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