Hamilton councillors propose $4m for indoor recreation centre at University of Waikato

City councillors are putting aside $4m to help build a recreation centre at the University of Waikato.

Sports lovers seeking indoor court space might have another option coming.

The University of Waikato wants to build a $26.5 million indoor recreation centre and Hamilton city councillors are setting aside $4m.

Mayor Andrew King wasn't going to put any money in the budget for it, but on Tuesday, councillors voted 10-2 to give it a boost.

The decision will be part of the draft long-term plan budget, which will go out for public consultation in March and April 2018.

Councillors wanted to keep talking to the university about the idea, looking for a business case they're happy with.

They voted to budget for a $4m grant towards building the indoor recreation centre, and wanted to gather a further $2m from regional ratepayers.

The grant would be budgeted for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years.

The university has land and a pool that could provide the hub for a good recreation complex, Councillor Dave Macpherson said.

"[A regional facilities plan] has said that there should be two or three large recreation facilities in the Waikato. Rototuna Recreation Centre is one. This would be the second one," he said.

The University of Waikato
"There is an opportunity here to leverage council money and get a much bigger university and community contribution."

Council will go through another long-term plan process before handing over the grant, he said, so that will be the final chance to sign it off.

Cr Angela O'Leary said it was core community business which needed to go ahead.

Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher said his support was conditional on some money coming from outside Hamilton.

"Location-wise, it's right next to the expressway. There are a whole lot of transport things where this is a really good regional facility."

That works both ways, though, Cr Paula Southgate said - for example, if someone from Morrinsville wanted to establish a home of soccer.

"They're going to come to us for a share of regional funding. I hope that we're going to be as willing at that point to participate in cross-boundary conversation."

She also hoped a turf or turfs could be part of the development.

"I think you'll expect what I'm going to say," Cr Garry Mallett said.

"This is unfunded for a reason. We're simply out of dough."

But it had support from Cr Rob Pascoe, who said he approved of joint ventures with credible partners.

Sport Waikato chief executive Matthew Cooper spoke in a public forum at city council and explained the funding plan.

The university would put in $7m and ask local councils for $6m, he said.

About $13.5m would come from external funders.

The proposed rec centre would be nearly 5000 square metres, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones said.

A campus sport precinct is part of a 20-year strategic plan recently endorsed by the university council, he said.

Councillors voted 10-2 to set aside money for a construction grant.

Those opposed were Crs Siggi Henry and Mallett.

Council staff will report back to elected members with further information.

From the Waikato Times