Trustpower Baypark could be transformed into a community sports and recreation hub for Tauranga, hosting everything from athletics and gymnastics to court sports and beach sports. That is the vision outlined in preliminary plans signed off by Tauranga City Council earlier this month, with the early blueprints focusing on three key areas – Blake Park, Baypark, and the Tauranga Domains.
The overall project aims to create a city-wide network of venues for sports, recreation, and events, and is part of a wider strategy around future-proofing Tauranga’s public spaces and reserves.
The proposed changes to Trustpower Baypark – which is owned by Tauranga City Council and managed by Bay Venues – could see it become a multi-use sporting precinct, a place where both residents and visitors can play and compete at all levels.
The vast open and flexible spaces available at the Te Maunga site would be optimised and repurposed to cater to the city’s growing population and increasing need for space to play sport.
This project could provide Tauranga with a chance to create public spaces that are distinctly local, spaces that are unique to each location of the city and reflect the people who will be using them every single day.
The preliminary plans include a new track and field athletics facility, outdoor courts (some of them covered), a new gymnastics facility, sand courts, as well as dedicated green spaces, a playground, and walkways.
Trustpower Baypark would be better equipped as a result to host large tournaments such as the AIMS Games, as well as day-to-day competitions and training sessions for popular sports like netball and basketball.
Bay Venues chief executive Chad Hooker said master planning for Blake Park, Baypark, and the Tauranga Domains, all at the same time, allowed for a coordinated and integrated approach.
“These preliminary plans aim to optimise the sites we currently have, as the council is limited by how much more land it can open up to meet the increasing community demand for sport and event space in our rapidly growing city.
“Early ideas include moving some types of events from Baypark to the Domains where event delivery could be greatly enhanced. One of the benefits of this would be supporting hospitality and retail activity in the Tauranga CBD. And in turn, Baypark could be home to more sporting codes.”
He said some changes could be required across the wider site to accommodate those additional sporting codes, such as moving the speedway pit area to a different location within Baypark.
“We have been meeting regularly with the Bay of Plenty Speedway Association as part of this planning process and will continue to do so,” Hooker said.
“Speedway is an important activity at Trustpower Baypark and we are committed to fulfilling our obligations and working together with the association and its partner groups to provide the facilities they need for speedway events.”
Hooker said it is still early days, nothing is set in stone, and there are no firm timeframes yet.
“These are high-level blueprints that will be followed-up by more detailed planning and continued stakeholder engagement.”
He said Bay Venues is excited by the overall vision and the organisation will work closely every step of the way with Tauranga City Council, Sport Bay of Plenty, and mana whenua.
“We will also continue to work with all our stakeholder groups that use the venues to plan for the future. We appreciate there will be some concerns about these proposed changes, and we will address those concerns together.”
Hooker said this could be an opportunity to work as a team to create public spaces the whole city can be proud of, with high quality facilities tailor-made for our communities.
“An important part of this project would be working with mana whenua to acknowledge and share the cultural significance and history associated with the different sites, and in a way that people can actually interact and engage with,” he said.
Early ideas for Trustpower Baypark, developed in partnership with Ngā Pōtiki, include a themed playground, a 360-degree lookout point with interpretation panels, and multimedia storytelling displays.
“To best serve our communities, our venues need to embody our commitment to inclusivity and partnership,” Hooker said.
“Everyone should feel welcome and connected as soon as they arrive. At the same time, this project could provide Tauranga with a chance to create public spaces that are distinctly local, spaces that are unique to each location of the city and reflect the people who will be using them every single day.”
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