Sports bodies seek assistance from council

There was a strong sports theme to yesterday's annual plan hearings, as Dunedin sports organisations called for support, both financial and otherwise.

Football South, Sport Otago, Basketball Otago and Otago Cricket all spoke seeking council support for various projects.

Both Football South and Sport Otago emphasised the important role sport played in Dunedin's economy and society and questioned why it was not included in the council's economic development strategy.

Sport Otago chief executive John Brimble said with so many different organisations seeking funding, there was a ''crying need'' for an overall strategy on investment in sports facilities.

Mr Brimble also asked for an extra $75,400 to fund a ''groundbreaking'' project it was carrying out looking at the use of Dunedin's sports fields.

The council had asked Sports Otago to carry out the project, but its scope meant extra resources were needed.

The project involved looking at the state of the city's sports facilities, and both present and future maintenance costs.

The council could either ''front-load'' the project, so the project was completed within a year, or spread the funding over four years.

The project would provide ''valuable data'' for the development of the council's parks and recreation strategy.

Mr Brimble criticised the council for not including sports tourism in its economic development strategy.

''Sports tourism is big business, it needs to be included in your overall economic strategy.''

The council will also have to consider a request from Basketball Otago for $30,000 funding to help cover venue hire fees at the Edgar Centre. It received $27,000 this year. General manager Markham Brown said DCC funding was vital to the organisation, but was warned by Cr Richard Thomson that the organisation needed to be weaning itself off its reliance on council assistance.

''You guys have a professional organisation and you've improved from a bad situation a few years ago, but the DCC has been there through the tough times to enable you to get here.

''What's your plan to wean yourself off the DCC? Because others [seeking grants from the council] were told no last year, when you were told yes.''

He was assured it was actively pursuing that goal, and was in talks with several large national firms about more long-term sponsorship.

Football South general manager Bill Chisholm highlighted the positives of having a ''home of football'', incorporating a floodlit artificial turf, as part of the Logan Park Redevelopment Plan.

The home of football, which would cost about $1.5 million, could be part of the ''legacy'' of Dunedin hosting Fifa under-20 World Cup matches next year.

Hosting of the world cup increased the likelihood Fifa would help fund the project and the world football body was considering supporting it to the tune of $US500,000 ($NZ575,000).

Football contributed significantly to the city's economic and social development and council documents should reflect that, he said.

Forsyth Barr Stadium should be used every day of the year, except for public holidays, ''for all kinds of activities, not just sport''.

Cr Chris Staynes talked of the possibility of the council providing a low-interest loan for the ''home of football'' project.

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