Sportspeople eagerly await hub

Wednesday, Sep 09 2020

Sportspeople eagerly await hub


Will Johnston

North Taranaki sportspeople say the time for a multi-hub facility is now.

Those sports bulging at the seams with players are eagerly anticipating a multi-sport hub proposed for the New Plymouth raceway.

Plans were released last Thursday for a sports hub that will accommodate many codes and recreational activities including rugby, cricket, badminton, volleyball, basketball and netball.

A detailed Community Sport Facility Needs Assessment completed last year showed there was an urgent need for indoor court space and an artificial turf, which has been drafted in the first phase of the project, estimated to cost $62.5m.

Since 2015, hockey in the province has seen a 45 percent increase in participation numbers with registrations up to 1936 from 1322.

Hockey Taranaki executive officer Denise Hill said the sport had been stifled due to the lack of facilities and supporting infrastructure.

“The current facility on Hobson Street has no showers, changing rooms or social areas that are expected and needed to enhance the social aspect of the game and cater for ever-changing formats in the modern era.”

She said working with other sports codes would reduce duplication, enable shared administration and ensure Taranaki sport as a whole was providing the best for all participants.

The construction of a new turf on the site will also avoid issues like matches finishing late and safer areas to warm up.

The six-court indoor stadium is a welcome relief for New Plymouth Basketball Association president David Cooper.

In four years, basketball has grown 9% with the sport currently using the three-court TSB Stadium.

“With more court space, we will be able to have all the teams that apply to compete in our competitions. Game times could be less restrictive, and teams could be smaller to give players more court time,” Cooper said.

Currently, junior teams were required to have 10 players to ensure as many children get to play, he said.

The extra courts would mean more courts will be available in a close area, perfect for larger events.

“New Plymouth would meet requirements to host national tournaments.”

Cooper said there would be concerns over access during weekends if the new venue is run like the TSB Stadium where the venue wouldn’t be available for single court use.

Currently, matches are finishing well after 10pm and the new indoor stadium will ensure matches finish earlier to take the strain off school children.

Sport Taranaki says the idea is that the existing TSB Stadium will be the main venue for non-sporting events but having the two facilities provides the best of both worlds because they can operate separately or in tandem depending on what is required.

Netball is also short on indoor court space. Its premier competitions are split over two nights and often across other indoor venues around Taranaki.

The outdoor courts, proposed for the hub, will be a mixture of multi-purpose use and specifically for netball, adding to the courts at Waiwhakaiho Park.

New Plymouth councillor David Bublitz, who is a supporter of the hub, says it is more than just a sporting facility.

“Not only will the facility contribute to the wellbeing of the thousands of sport and recreation users, but it will also be a social space where people can meet and catch up.”

Eg, you could still have the famous rug sale in the TSB Stadium while hosting sport in the new hub, or have a national bball tourney by using all courts at the same time. 

Bublitz said there would also be economic benefits that the hospitality and retail sector will experience.

Along with the local benefits, he believes the venue will be able to cater for national sporting events.

“In these uncertain times of international travel, having a national event plan in place to attract thousands of sport and recreation participants to the region is essential for the long-term existence of these sectors,” he said.

“This is truly an amazing opportunity to leave something that will benefit our community for decades.”

Community feedback will be sought before New Plymouth councillors decide whether to include it in the long-term plan.