The Home of Cycling Trust has revealed plans for Cambridge’s Velodrome to be the venue for three sporting halls of fame.
One, the Māori sports halls of fame already has the support of Māori king Tūheitia Paki and the second, a racing equivalent, has the backing of the New Zealand thoroughbred industry. Both are currently virtual.
The main one, the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame has been at the Dunedin Railway Station since 1999 ad is looking for a bigger home.
Home of Cycling Trust chair Graeme Maw told The News the Velodrome was the preferred candidate for the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame beating out bids from Auckland, Christchurch and Invercargill.
The major barrier to confirming the move is securing one-off funding from Waipā District Council of $750,000. The support was not so much about the money, he said, but more a signal to other backers that Waipā was the right place to celebrate New Zealand’s sporting and creative success.
Having council support now was as significant as the decision in May 2011 by Waipā councillors to grant the Home of Cycling Trust $1 million towards a joint bid to establish the national cycling centre of excellence in Cambridge.
The mayor back then was Alan Livingston who is today part of the project team working to bring the Sports Hall of Fame from Dunedin to Waipā.
“This is the right place for it – we truly are the Home of Champions,” he said.
The Velodrome, built for $32 million and now valued at $62 million, went onto become a profitable venture which prior to Covid was attracting 60,000 users a year and now only has a debt of $1.8 million.
The trust is today in expansion mode and looking to extend the office and administration footprint at the Velodrome to attract new tenants and house the Sporting Hall of Fame.
That development, expected to cost $7-$8 million, would be funded by borrowings and not Waipā ratepayers, said Maw.
New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame chair Stuart McLauchlan, said his trustees were heartened by the work going on to bring the hall from Dunedin to Cambridge.
“The Hall chose the Home of Cycling venue from other applicants and our decision has been vindicated,” McLauchlan said. “While there is still much work to do, the signs are encouraging.”
Maw first came to Cambridge in 2012 after he was appointed Triathlon New Zealand’s high performance director and asked to find a new base for the sport.
He looked all around New Zealand hoping to find a community passionate about sport and having a culture of inclusiveness for athletes.
The former British Triathlon high performance director arrived in Cambridge on his own with a bicycle on the roof. At his motel, the owners noticed the bike and put Maw in touch with people he could go cycling with while he was staying. Those contacts proved invaluable and convinced Maw, Cambridge was the right place for triathlon’s headquarters.
It offered excellent training in all three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running and had outstanding high performance culture ringing through its community, he said at the time.
His view has not changed despite the damning report released a fortnight ago which took issue with the centralised Cycling New Zealand model based in Cambridge.
While the criticism was unhelpful, it had not deterred the Home of Cycling Trust’s bid for the Sports Hall of Fame, he said.
Waipā District Council declined the trust’s application for $750,000 through its Annual Plan process earlier this month and told the trust it could come back in a year after it consulted with the community.
Maw said he and the trust had taken that on board and would embark on a campaign to engage with groups such as the Chambers of Commerce, Rotary, Lions, schools and sports’ organisations.