$107m sports hub plan to go before councillors

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014
$107 million sports hub at Nga Puna Wai reserve

AMBITIOUS PLANS: A $107m sports hub at Nga Puna Wai reserve is proposed.

Nga Puna Wai
PREFERRED OPTION: Nga Puna Wai is next door to the showgrounds.

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An ambitious concept plan for a $107 million sports hub in the southwest of Christchurch has been unveiled.

Under the city council-commissioned plan, the bulk of the Nga Puna Wai reserve, next to the Canterbury Agricultural Park, would house new facilities for athletics, hockey and tennis.

The concept plan proposes building the sports hub in four stages, starting with an outdoor athletics track at a cost of $7.8m.

See the Nga Puna Wai sports hub concept plan here.

In the second and third stages, facilities would be built for hockey and tennis respectively, and in the fourth and final stage a grandstand, indoor athletics track and warm-up track would be added.

The total price tag for the project is $107.4m, but the concept plan suggests that expenditure could be spread over 50 years.

Councillors will get their first look at the plan next week when they will be asked by staff to initiate a special consultative procedure for public feedback.

In a report prepared for that meeting, council recreation and sport development manager Simon Battrick said the concept of a sports hub at Nga Puna Wai was supported by most regional sporting bodies.

It was a "forward-looking and ambitious concept" made possible only because of the "dreadful effects" of the earthquakes. Other sites had been considered, but Nga Puna Wai was the preferred option because it provided more than 30 hectares of useable space within 6km of the central city and was already owned by the council.

The Canterbury A&P Association, though, was strongly opposed to development because of the implications for its own operations, and Athletics Canterbury also had reservations.

It supported the sports hub concept but was concerned it would delay the construction of a replacement athletics track. It was frustrated with the process and just wanted a single athletics track built as soon as possible, Battrick said. That option was not favoured by council officers or the majority of the sporting community, who saw an athletics track as a core component of a sports hub.

Commenting on the financial implications of the proposal, Battrick said the council had $6.7m on its books for a new athletics track to replace the one lost with the demolition of QEII. It also had $3m in insurance proceeds for other facilities it lost at QEII and Porritt Park, but to get that full amount it would need to replace like with like.

"At least two regional sporting organisations have financial proceeds from the insurance of their damaged facilities.

"They have offered to financially contribute to the cost of establishing components of a sporting hub on Nga Puna Wai should the council wish to proceed in a manner that meets their needs," Battrick said.

Other sporting bodies had also offered to help with fundraising and there was "no automatic expectation at this time" that the council would contribute to any capital or operational costs.

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- The Press

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