A $4 million cricket hub could be built beside Hamilton’s Seddon Park – and not with ratepayer money.
Northern Districts Cricket wants the centre as a home and training base for its players, and says it can find the funds.
The community cricket centre would be on the Bryce Street side and have indoor training lanes and office space.
CHOW:HILL ARCHITECTS/NORTHERN DI
Northern Districts would also double the number of outdoor grass wickets and revamp the entrance to Seddon Park’s Gate D.
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Hamilton City councillors like the idea – especially as they’re not being asked for money – but on Thursday struggled with how they could formally express their support.
NORTHERN DISTRICTS CRICKET
“Everyone we have shown the concept to is interested in this,” Northern Districts chief executive Ben MacCormack said in a Thursday presentation to council.
“It allows us to be a 365 day sport rather than a summer sport.”
The centre would be used by first-class cricketers as well as younger players and community cricketers, he said.
CHOW:HILL ARCHITECTS/NORTHERN DI
Plans for the two-year project have already been developed with Fosters Construction Ltd and Chow:Hill Architects.
Council wouldn’t be asked to contribute to the build, though MacCormack hoped Northern Districts would get a favourable rate on their lease after spending on the area.
Northern Districts plans to fund construction through various means, including gaming trusts, and has partnerships which could bring construction costs down, he said.
The project is a situation “where other people are paying the bill for what I believe would be pretty good city benefit overall,” council’s general manager of events Sean Murray said.
The plan would involve permanently closing Bryce Street between Seddon Road and Tristram Street – otherwise the space would be too small, he said.
Councillors liked the idea, but spent much of the discussion deciding whether the committee could “approve” the centre or just “support” it.
Mayor Andrew King started his debate with a contemplative pause.
His subsequent push to approve the project prompted governance warnings that it could be beyond the committee’s authority.
King withdrew the motion, adding “bureaucracy wins again” in his debate speech.
Chair Paula Southgate was happy to stick with “support”.
“I don’t want to commit council to something where details are yet to be fleshed through,” she said, “but then I don’t want to stand in the way of Northern Districts going ahead and doing the good work that they’re doing in seeking their sponsorship.”
Councillor Dave Macpherson agreed.
“I’d love to say we approve it right now and start building tomorrow, thanks, but it’s not legally possible.”
For the lone dissenter, former traffic cop Cr Leo Tooman, the issue was closing Bryce Street.
“Once that road is gone, you’re never going to get it back.”
Councillors voted 9-1 to support the project, with Cr Leo Tooman in opposition.
Crs Mark Bunting and James Casson were not present for the vote, and Cr Rob Pascoe was absent.
Council’s support is dependent on the project being completed at no cost to council, meeting all regulatory compliance conditions, and council open space planning staff being included in the design of part of the precinct.
The final proposal and an agreement with Northern Districts Cricket will come back to council for final approval.
What is Northern Districts Cricket planning?
* New building including office space, possible cafe and indoor cricket nets
* Fan zone area to accommodate welcoming entry into Seddon Park, area for food vendors, children’s activities, bands and public facilities
* Level entry into stadium by re-contouring land
* Provide a facility with two outdoor cricket nets, either by retaining existing cricket nets and building an additional one or by building two new nets
Source: Northern Districts Cricket