Events centre back on agenda


Discussions regarding a new sports and events centre in Oamaru have been put on the “front burner”, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Progress was disrupted earlier this year as the Waitaki District Council focused on the district’s Covid-19 recovery and 3 Waters reform programmes, but two meetings were held last month to kick things off again.

“It was technically on the back burner, but that was just for the time being,” Mr Kircher said.

“Now we’ve got a little bit of breathing space, so it’s been picked up again and put on the front burner, [to] get on with developing more of a proposal in terms of what we are talking about.”

The two meetings, involving about 20 representatives from sporting and other agencies, included an investment logic mapping process to identify problems in the community a sports and event centre could solve.

Oamaru did not have a facility to host age group basketball and netball tournaments – and large community events did not have a big enough indoor space at present, he said.

“It was really about the problems?’ and really looking at what are the possible solutions for them.

“It’s helped identify there is a problem we’ve got the opportunity of solving – and a sports and events centre is something that definitely would help with that.”

The next stage would be creating a business plan to explore possible sites and the building’s layout, including the number of courts and other facilities it needed.

“There’s good agreement going on there. [But] we’re still a way from getting it so that we’ve got something more definite to talk to the community about.”

A study completed nearly 18 months ago identified possible sites in Oamaru. However, some may not be suitable, depending on the layout and allowing room to build on to the centre in the future.

“We haven’t got to that point yet. It’s about keeping our options open. It’s quite an enthusiastic group and they’re having discussions with other potential stakeholders.”

Possible funding options, including central government funding, would be explored, and there were good signs of local sponsorship, he said.

“That will depend on timing and creating the right space. It’s something that has been talked about for a long time and we’ve definitely got some people in our community who are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

“It’s certainly not going to be a situation where the ratepayer can afford to, or will, stump up with the full amount.

“We want to make sure we get as much external funding as possible and if there are local funders willing too, that’s absolutely fantastic.”

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