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Community sports centre formalised with partnership agreement

18 Oct 2021, 12:45 PM

Waitomo District Council has formalised its commitment to a project that will see a multi-million dollar indoor sports complex constructed in Te Kuiti.

On Thursday, on behalf of the Council, WDC Chief Executive Chris Ryan and Mayor John Robertson formally signed a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Education and the Te Kuiti High School Board for joint ownership of the proposed King Country Indoor Sports and Recreation Centre.

Ownership would be a shared arrangement between Council 65% and MOE and TKHS 35%.

Council will have responsibility for building the facility and managing ongoing operations.

A construction agreement was signed on Friday with Apollo Projects Ltd, the company which will design and construct the centre.

Apollo Projects Ltd specialises in the design and construction of sports stadiums and education centres, and has worked with Councils throughout New Zealand on various infrastructure projects.

Mr Robertson says the signing of the agreements culminates three months of negotiations between the parties.

“This is a unique partnership to build and operate a major facility to support the needs of the school, the local community, and the wider region,” he says.

“It has not been easy to pull together, but I am pleased with the outcome.  The Council is taking the key leadership role.  We own the business case and we are responsible for the delivery of the project.”

The recommendation for Council to partner with the Ministry and School was first presented to Council’s 31 August meeting following recommendations made by the Audit, Risk and Finance Committee at its meeting on 17 August.

The proposal was agreed by Council, subject to a number of conditions including acceptable agreements being reached between the Council, MOE, and the TKHS that would enable Council to manage the development and operations of the facility; agreements being reached for funding support from MOE and TKHS to help cover capital and operational costs; and an agreement being reached with a construction company to construct the facility.

Since the proposal was tabled, Council staff have invested many hours into ensuring the conditions were met, as well as identifying and mitigating the risks associated to the project.

A project risk assessment model was developed which sought to capture all the identifiable risks of the proposed project.  This model was informed in part by independent reviews of the proposal by Deloitte, Rawlinsons, Ministry of Education and the Project Steering Group.  

Each of the identified risks were considered and appropriate mitigation and control measures applied.

“In September Council officers put enormous time and effort into negotiating agreements, recording these, and documenting risks and finding ways to mitigate them.  Council met last Tuesday to consider all aspects of the proposal again, and having satisfied itself as to the robustness of the business case, resolved to proceed and delegate to the Mayor and Chief Executive the authority to enter into the various agreements.  That is now done.”

Mr Robertson says that construction of the stadium is not risk free, but Council has done all it can to identify and mitigate to the extent possible all identified project risks. 

He acknowledged the stakeholders who had assisted over the past three months, including the Ministry for increasing its financial contribution to $2.35 million, Trust Waikato for increasing its contribution to in excess of $1 million, and Lotteries for novating its grant of $3 million to Council. 

“We have just under $8.9 million raised for this project, including the Council contribution of $1.5 million.  This covers all known site development and construction costs. 

“Once open, we need the centre to break even in an operational sense.  With some school funding, with outside sponsorship, some of which is already committed, I have confidence that this can be achieved.”

The concept of an Indoor sports facility was first floated in 2014. 

The Game on Charitable Trust was later formed by a small group of locals to advance it.  In 2018 the Council granted $1.5 million to the Trust to assist its fundraising efforts.

However, in 2020 the Ministry of Education advised that it was unable to support the Trust’s business case.  Sport NZ then stepped in to find a way to reset the project and deliver a sustainable project. 

A Steering Group was formed of interested stakeholders, including the Council, represented by Mayor Robertson and Councillor Goddard.  The Steering Group reworked the design, applied to regional and national funders to secure more capital, negotiated increased funding from the Ministry of Education, and rewrote the business case.

The Indoor Sports Centre will consist of two full sized basketball courts, a fitness centre, a multipurpose room and changing rooms.  The fitness centre will be open to the public, and the courts will be available outside of school hours, or at other times agreed with the school.

The centre is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.