Planning needed for hockey funding

The hockey turf at Logan Park.  Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The hockey turf at Logan Park. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
The Dunedin City Council has to plan for $1.6 million in hockey facility improvements needed at Dunedin's Logan Park over the next few years, councillors heard yesterday.

Councillors were considering a request for $72,300 for the 2011-12 year from the Otago Hockey Association, which would pay for the Otago Artificial Surface Trust to meet the loan costs for previous improvements to Dunedin hockey facilities.

However, Cr Paul Hudson reminded councillors of larger hockey costs on the horizon, including $400,000 towards replacing an ageing artificial playing surface - one of two at Logan Park - in the 2012-13 financial year.

A further $1.2 million was expected to be needed for a third artificial turf within five years, councillors heard.

Council acting chief executive Athol Stephens said debate over the council's share of the $1.2 million cost needed consideration by councillors "sooner rather than later".

His comment came after Otago Hockey Association president Jenny McDonald told last week's annual plan hearings the association intended to seek a $500,000 loan from the council in the 2012-13 financial year.

The loan would help pay for the third turf, which would be used for hockey, touch rugby and other sports, she said.

Council community and recreation services (Cars) manager Mick Reece told councillors yesterday Otago Hockey's governing body was giving a "heads up" for future funding requirements, and a package of improvements and funding requests would be prepared.

The $72,300 grant requested for 2011-12 would meet the ongoing cost of a $500,000 council loan taken out two years ago, which contributed to the $800,000 total cost of a second artificial turf added at the time, he said.

Cr Richard Thomson said Otago Hockey had been proactive in handling its facilities over the years, and the demand for them was clear.

"These courts are going every day, right into the evening, at full capacity. Many teams cannot even practice, they can only play their games, because they [playing fields] are at full capacity."

He urged councillors to bite the bullet and plan for future funding.

Cr Syd Brown said a detailed replacement programme, including costs, should also be prepared, which could then be used to begin community fundraising towards the overall cost.

However, Cr Lee Vandervis believed the funding issues should be considered by a separate council committee, not as a community grant through the annual plan process.

"It's been described as a heads up. I feel it's more of a softening-up ... These telephone number budgets need to be itemised, they need to be rigorous, and they need to be brought to a committee where we can do them justice," he said.

Councillors agreed to continue the annual loan funding of $72,300 for another year, and consider other funding issues through the council's Logan Park working party.


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