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Enterprise Northland supports events centre

2 March 2005

Enterprise Northland supports proposed events centre

Northland deserves a modern, international-quality regional events centre, says economic development agency Enterprise Northland.

““Northland is forging ahead in so many ways as a place to live, work and invest,” said Enterprise Northland chief executive officer Brian Roberts. “Northland has always been one of New Zealand’s top tourism destinations. Over the past two years, our economy has been growing strongly across a range of sectors, and we’re now working together strategically to ensure that the growth is sustainable.”

“We have every reason to be confident enough to invest in a decent events centre,” said Mr Roberts, adding that regions similar to Northland had successfully funded and developed new facilities.

The Northland Regional Council has this week commissioned an independent survey to gauge public support for the proposed $30.7 million multi-purpose events centre, with a capacity for 20,000, at Whangarei’s Okara Park.

The events centre would be used for rugby, rugby league and soccer matches up to international standard, as well as for sports training camps, community events and business functions. Concerts, cultural events and outdoor shows and exhibitions would also take place on a controlled basis.

Mr Roberts says there would be both tangible and intangible benefits for Northland. “In straight economic terms, it’s vital that Northland remains competitive as a potential venue for major events, which bring visitors and therefore income into the region.”

“Our ability to host these events has been steadily slipping. Other regions have invested in upgrading their stadiums, and quality of facilities has emerged as a deciding factor in the allocation of international rugby matches, for example.”

Mr Roberts said Northland had missed out on a match in the forthcoming tour by the British Lions rugby team this winter. “When the Lions go on tour, they are accompanied by the ‘Barmy Army’ of up to 20,000 supporters, all with money to spend on accommodation, food and entertainment.

“Even if we take a conservative view, they could have injected $3.6 million in direct expenditure into the Northland economy in the middle of winter. Along with the potential revenue, we have also given away an opportunity for Northland to be seen by a national and international television audience.”

“Looking at it from another perspective, when Northland’s regional economic strategy was developed in 2001 – following the widest consultation exercise ever undertaken here – the number one priority issue identified was ‘lifting the attitudes and aspirations of Northland people."

“Clearly Northlanders want to be confident in their region and its future – maybe it’s time we let ourselves dream it could be possible.”

ENDS

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