Sports leaders and sportspeople from the wider Wellington region have gathered to mark the ceremonial opening of the Ricoh Sports Centre in Lower Hutt, which is expected to attract millions of visitors in the coming years when it opens to the public early in 2019.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace officially opened the Ricoh Sports Centre today at an event marking the handover from HCC and CFT to Fraser Park Sportsville who will manage the Centre.
Mayor Wallace said the impressive new facility represented the culmination of nine years of collaboration between Council, CFT and Fraser Park Sportsville, which comprises nine Lower Hutt based sports clubs and organisations.
"This incredible facility will change the way sport is played and viewed in the Hutt and is set to attract many participants and visitors from across New Zealand and overseas. Hutt City Council has invested $9.25m in the facility, and Mayor Wallace says it was fantastic to see corporate sponsors like Ricoh, the local community, sports organisations and individuals also get behind the project and raise a further $3.3m.
"The Ricoh Sports Centre would not have come about without this incredible community support. It is pleasing that a partnership model for new facility development has succeeded resulting in a facility that we can all be proud of," says Mayor Wallace.
The facility is a game-changer for Lower Hutt and the Wellington region. Squash courts, softball, football, hockey, rugby, cricket and other multi-sport facilities are set to attract international, national and local competitors, tournaments and matches.
Bookings for 2019 have already been confirmed from a variety of organisations and sports, demonstrating the demand for good sports facilities in Lower Hutt and the wider region. Chair of Fraser Park Sportsville Mark Heissenbuttel says the focus is to support the relocation of clubs and to promote Fraser Park as the preferred sport and recreation venue in the region. This will ensure the Ricoh Sports Centre and wider park assets are fully utilised.
"Plans are underway to attract new events and sporting opportunities to put the Ricoh Sports Centre on the map. We're in the process of setting up live streaming capabilities so that some games can be viewed by extended audiences."
Matt Reid, Hutt City Council General Manager of City and Community Services, says there a number of benefits for the clubs involved.
"Not only will this lessen the load on club volunteers, it will enable them to focus on developing their sport. Players and supporters will experience a significant improvement on existing sports grounds and clubrooms," he says.
As well as full-sized, all-weather turfs for football, rugby and hockey, there is an artificial all-weather in-field and international standard diamond for softball and six international-standard squash courts. The centre also boasts a 600sq.m. indoor activity space and viewing decks so activity can be viewed from various points around the facility.
Kirsten Patterson, CFT Chair says the Ricoh Sports Centre is the gold standard for all future CFT developments.
"There is an immense feeling of satisfaction today seeing this second stage of the Fraser Park development completed and handed over to the tenants, Fraser Park Sportsville. The Ricoh Sports Centre is a sports, events and community asset like no other in Wellington and the squash courts are the best in the country."
The Ricoh Sports Centre is a "smart building" featuring the latest in technological advancements for sports facilities. High-tech building management systems have been connected throughout the Centre including to individual courts and changing rooms enabling individuals to access different parts of the building without opening the entire space.
The Ricoh Sports Centre will be open to the public for bookings from Monday 4 February with a community opening and fun day on Sunday 10 February.