Whanganui and its business community will enjoy large post COVID-19 and long-term employment, community, and economic benefits if the Government approves shovel-ready funding of the Whanganui Velodrome stadium.

The Whanganui District Council’s application for $26.3 million is short-listed.

The stadium project is supported by seven councils.

The project is construction ready.

Construction could commence within six months.

Significant economic and employment benefits:

It will deliver:

  • The largest covered sporting and entertainment venue in the lower North Island
  • New international standard cycling and speed skating tracks, a new track centre, extra seating and viewing lounge, and
  • Facilities to stage more than 31 types of sporting, community, cultural and entertainment events, with a seating capacity of 6,000 (capable of being further increased).

The project will

  • Cost $26.3 million (based on latest professional quantity surveying updates in February 2020)
  • Have a 10-year economic value of $177 million (seating an average of 3,800 people at concerts), an
  • Economic payback period 2.3 years and
  • Positive average cashflow per year of $820,000.

Importantly, compared with other approved shovel-ready projects to date, it creates more new jobs.

These include

  • 100 construction jobs
  • 500 new on-going jobs.

It launches an events industry based in Whanganui, but also benefiting neighbouring regions.

The stadium will also result in a growth in air, travel, accommodation, and other services.

Independent nationwide research in October 2019 found the stadium would easily attract capacity crowds of 6,000 adults to each of more than 31 types of events more than once a month.

Their intentions to travel from throughout the country by road, air, bus, train, and private vehicle – and to seek paid accommodation to attend various event types indicates the facility will drive and underpin demand for much-needed new hotels and other facilities. There will be significant flow-on benefits for those in the region providing tourism and other visitor services.

An alternative for Whanganui District Council is to simply roof its current velodrome and provide some capacity for sports other than cycling. But a velodrome stadium is needed to host events, like concerts, are needed to ensure the facility is economic.

Strong community support:

A Horizon Research survey of 421 Whanganui District Council adult residents in July 2020 found 83%  thought the Government should approve the shovel-ready application. (The survey was weighted to represent the Whanganui adult population at the 2018 census. The maximum margin of error is +/- 4.9%).

The Regional Velodrome Development Trust also enjoys strong community support. In the past month businesspeople and other supporters have contributed tens of thousands of dollars for an advertising and promotional campaign to update the community on the project and explain its benefits.

This has included publishing four newspaper advertisements – with another planned in three publications this week.

Sport New Zealand also supports roofing the velodrome to retain it as a regional sports hub. (Sports New Zealand’s remit, of course, cannot extend to commending its value as a community and events venue).

The city’s velodrome was built in 1995 with the intention of roofing it later. Sadly, this has not happened. The track surface is now rotting and unless replaced the velodrome will need to be demolished in around 2 years’ time at a cost of more than $3 million. The opportunity cost for Whanganui, the lower North Island and the country would be immense.

How you can act right now to help:

So, we commend the velodrome stadium project to businesspeople – and ask for your personal action to help.

Express your support by emailing the Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson to affirm there is widespread business and community support for this grant and to ask him to give it hs personal attention:

g.robertson@ministers.govt.nz

We know Whanganui City council and the community and the Regional Velodrome Development Trust, which has been undertaking detailed work on the project for the past 12 years, will quickly and comprehensively assist in officials in undertaking any final due diligence work.

WHEN 6,000 COME TO EVENTS, COULD YOUR BUSINESS BENEFIT?

An Horizon Research Ltd nationwide survey in October 2019 found there was sufficient interest to attract capacity crowds of 6,000 to 31 events measured.

The company provides the following tables as part of this public-interest project. They report how many of each 6,000-seat sell-out crowd would come from various areas of the country, how they would travel to the events, and where they would stay. The data Horizon is making available to Whanganui Chamber of Commerce members also includes prospective attendees’ ages, gender, and household incomes.

It is clear a well-run velodrome stadium will deliver huge numbers of extra visitors, launch an “events industry” in the district, and under pin and expand air services, and grow jobs in many sectors.

The Horizon survey was of 1,047 adults nationwide. It was conducted between 3 and 8 October 2019, among people 18+ who are members of Horizon Research’s HorizonPoll panel and a third-party online research panel. Results are weighted to represent the adult population at the 2018 census. At a 95% confidence level, the maximum margin of error is ±3.1% overall.

This survey was conducted by Horizon Research without charge as one of its public interest projects.