Taranaki sports facilities are an aging 'time bomb', strategy highlights
A 'time bomb' of aging sport facilities nearing their 'use by' date is slowly ticking away in Taranaki, a report on the future of the region's sports grounds, stadiums and clubrooms has highlighted.
The Taranaki Regional Sport Facility Strategy report, presented to the Taranaki Regional Council executive, audit and risk committee on Monday, made 38 recommendations towards further development and funding of sports facilities in the region.
The regional council is among a steering group, which includes New Plymouth, Stratford and South Taranaki district councils, the TSB Community Trust, TET, Sport Taranaki and Sport New Zealand, which helped to develop the strategy.
Its 38 recommendations include identifying the key needs for aquatics (eg swimming, water polo), indoor and outdoor courts (tennis, netball, basketball), outdoor fields, specialised sports, and sports hubs.
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It highlighted a 'time bomb' of unsustainable, aging and not fit for purpose sports facilities that require a planned approach to ensure they are upgraded and modernised to cater for growing pressures, or converted to another purpose.
The strategy report was criticised by South Taranaki District Council policy committee last week for being inaccurate and favouring North Taranaki for any future development.
But Sport Taranaki chief executive Howie Tamati said the report provided a framework only for local authorities to work with when deciding on funding a new sports facility, and was not biased towards any part of the region.
Tamati said the Egmont A & P Showgrounds at Hawera, for example, was a national equestrian facility which did not need to be replicated in New Plymouth.
"It is better to build a facility which would meet the specific needs of the equestrian people in North Taranaki.
"The key is getting a balance between wants and needs of each community based on realistic costs to build, and on-going operational costs without putting too much demand on the community to maintain."
Many of Taranaki's traditional sport facilities are more than 30 years old and compete with newer, more popular sports, the report said.
Taranaki's population is expected to grow to more than 130,000 by 2043, an 18.4 per cent increase, putting more pressure on sports facilities in the region.
Taranaki currently had two sports facilities at Yarrow Stadium and TET Hockey Stadium which can host international and national events, as well as a number of national event centres at TET Stadium (athletics), TSB Stadium (basketball) and the Egmont A & P Showgrounds, the report said.
The Hub in Hawera had hosted Davis Cup tennis.
The report said there was a 'significant' shortfall of regional, district and local facilities to cater for basketball events.
Priority should be made to find a six-court indoor venue to host regional and national games, the report said.
Public seating at the TSB Stadium, used from basketball and netball games, was not up to the standard required, while the venue did not meet Netball NZ court safety run-off specifications.
The report said the need to build more high performance facilities to meet national and international standards should be supported by demand, or proven to be economically sustainable in a region of Taranaki's size.
Football in Taranaki was hindered by a lack of adequate venues at regional and district level, the report found.
There was no facility in the region which could be developed as the 'home of Taranaki football' the report said.
Rugby also suffered from no multi-field venue to host regional tournaments, and poor quality fields which were not well-drained.
Priority should be given to developing a regional training venue with artificial turf and floodlights, the report said.
Many clubs were struggling for membership and should consider amalgamating with other codes to ensure their facilities are fully used, Tamati said.
Many facilities, such as community halls, evolved when rural communities had larger populations than they are now, he said.
Tamati said many clubs also relied on a decreasing number of volunteers to manage the facilities, and day to day administration.
"Many club buildings are 40-50 years old and need a lot of upgrade to be compliant," he said.
"Clubs should join together with other codes, like rugby and netball, to give a better chance of long term survival."
- Taranaki Daily News