Opinion: New Plymouth could be a sports hub of NZ

Tuesday, Apr 06 2021

Opinion: New Plymouth could be a sports hub of NZ

Will Johnston

Imagine this: Dozens of teams are competing in a national basketball tournament at the newly developed multi-sports hub at the racecourse, the Central Stags are playing metres away at Pukekura Park and the Chiefs are playing Super Rugby at Yarrow Stadium that night.

That’s a lot of sport to digest in one day. It would also be giving Taranaki’s economy a huge boost.

Accommodation will be booked out by teams and supporters, restaurants will be packed and shop cash registers humming. No one can disagree about the positive impacts they will have.

That could all be possible in four years after the public had its say on the New Plymouth District Council’s Long-Term Plan, which consultation ends on Tuesday.

While the public won’t have a say on Pukekura Park or Yarrow Stadium, they will have a say whether the sports hub will go ahead, hopefully in four years’ time.

If the needed facility gets the green light, there is a huge opportunity for New Plymouth to become the sporting capital of New Zealand.

Yarrow Stadium is an established venue for World Rugby, FIFA and other codes, while idyllic Pukekura Park is popular with New Zealand Cricket.

Sure, Pukekura Park’s pavilion is in dire need of an upgrade and Yarrow Stadium’s development is already underway – but there are opportunities there.

Not many other cities in New Zealand would have three high-quality sporting facilities close together where fans and participants can move from one to the other easily.

The opportunity here for New Plymouth is bigger than ever before.

The district has grown its arts and cultural scene but that could be complemented with its vibrant sporting life.

If the public don’t engage with the council during the submission process, the opportunity could be lost.

The affects are detrimental. No upgraded sports facilities, nowhere for kids to play and numbers will dwindle.

Let’s future proof sport and recreation in this district and not be left behind.