$35m complex 'win-win' for community

Sports centre to provide new facilities

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
HBHS sports comples
ILLUSTRATION: Studio 106

SPORTING SPACE: Plans for a multimillion-dollar, three-stage Hamilton East Community Sports Complex at Hamilton Boys’ High School have been unveiled.

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Hamilton Boys' High School has unveiled a proposal for a multimillion-dollar sports complex which could provide more community pool and sport space.

The ambitious 10-year, three-stage Hamilton East Community Sports Complex would be built on the school grounds and open to the community outside school hours.

Plans show the complete centre would include an artificial football turf, water-polo pool, indoor hockey facilities, cricket nets, a sprint training track, multi-use warm-up turf and administration facilities including shared and community clubrooms.

Some funding has been secured but the school is looking to the community for further help.

"If it all gets built [stages one to three], we're looking at a $35 million investment but we know we'll have to do it one step at a time," Hamilton Boys' High School project manager Philippe Basel said.

"We're thinking big but we've got our feet on the ground."

The first stage of the complex was set to cost $2.8m and include a new hockey turf and tennis courts and redevelopment of the school's existing swimming pool.

"Hamilton needs more hockey turfs and the school turf is in dire need of an upgrade. The school needs tennis courts that could also be used as a warm-up turf for hockey clubs. And it's the community which desperately needs an all-year round pool now the municipal pool has closed. That's why those three things are priorities for stage one," he said.

Basel was confident of getting funding for stage one to go ahead soon as two years of community consultation had shown many people and sport groups were keen to get behind it.

The school's board of trustees had given its seal of approval to what headmaster Susan Hassall called a win-win situation. "I would just love it to happen . . . The whole of Hamilton would benefit," she said.

"I am very confident that we will gain the funding, it's just a question of how long it takes." Hamilton Boys' and other schools will use the facilities during the school day but they will be tagged for community use after school hours, in the weekends and during school holidays.

Funding had already been committed by the school's board of trustees, WEL Energy Trust had promised an initial $30,000 grant and the school was talking to potential commercial sponsors.

The school has also launched a fundraising site which it hoped would raise at least $800,000 of the $2.8m for stage one. It hoped the school community would contribute some of the rest.

Sport Waikato chief executive Matthew Cooper said the project was about the school showing leadership and getting young kids involved in sport.

"HBHS has an outstanding reputation for sport.

"If the school can pull this off, the whole community will win."

The project would be an asset to the community and could provide "vital" extra lane space, Swimming Waikato executive officer Craig Scott said.

"We have got a shortage of [lane space] in the city, especially around the learn-to-swim area," he said.

Swimming Waikato had been involved in consultation throughout the project.

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Deputy mayor and Hamilton Boys' High School old boy Gordon Chesterman thought the idea was "fantastic".

"With the debate we've got on about the community pools, probably the high school's concept has come at the right time," he said.

Basel hoped the pool refurbishment could start as early as October this year, and construction of the tennis courts and hockey turf in March next year.

The fundraising website address is hamiltonsportscomplex.co.nz.

- Waikato Times

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