Rangiora’s stadium looks to secure financial future

Mainower Stadium. Photo: Mainpower
Mainower Stadium. Photo: Mainpower
Rangiora’s Mainpower Stadium is attracting 35,000 visitors a month, as it looks to secure its financial future.

The Waimakariri District Council is looking to change its agreement with the North Canterbury Sport and Recreation Trust by paying it $100,000 a year to manage the facilities on Coldstream Road.

Under the new agreement, the council will pay the trust to manage the indoor courts, administration area and function room on behalf of the community.

The fitness centre and cafe, and rooms hired to Allied Health, will remain subject to a lease agreement.

Michael Sharp. Photo: David Hill
Michael Sharp. Photo: David Hill
The funding proposal is being considered as part of the council’s 2024/34 Long Term Plan.

The $28 million stadium opened in August 2021, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has been a tough first 2.5 years, trust general manager Michael Sharp said.

‘‘We opened the stadium and then we went into lockdown 10 days later and when we came back it was to a highly restricted environment, which made it difficult to get people through the door.

‘‘But now we’re seeing 35,000 visitors a month. Some of that is gym members and spectators, but it is definitely about people being active which is why we are here.’’

While professional sports teams like the Crusaders and the Tactix pay full commercial rates to use the facilities, the trust tries to make it affordable for the community, Mr Sharp said.

The council’s community and recreation general manager, Chris Brown, said the financial challenges were not unexpected.

‘‘We know that sports courts don’t make money and that is why ratepayers put in money to have those facilities,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘We have worked very closely with the trust, and we realised it wasn’t going to be sustainable long term, so we have looked at solutions.’’

The trust manages four fitness centres in Southbrook (Rangiora), Kaiapoi, Oxford and Amberley, as well as MainPower Stadium, with the proceeds funding its community programmes, including sport in schools and support for new coaches.

It is also continuing to offer the Green Prescription programme, which was previously funded by the Ministry of Health.

‘‘The trust has picked it up and funded it because we can see the value to the community and it makes a real difference to those who use it,’’ Mr Sharp said.

When MainPower Stadium opened, trust chairperson Don Robertson announced the intention to build a new facility in Kaiapoi to replace the trust’s fitness centre, which is attached to the Kaiapoi Club.

‘‘Nothing is set in concrete yet, but we would like to have a community facility which offers a range of opportunities,’’ Mr Sharp said.

In the meantime the trust is working closely with the Kaiapoi Club, holding ‘‘silver fitness’’ classes in the upstairs bar, as well as leasing the fitness centre building.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.