300,000 Wellingtonians to converge on Council candidates

Candidates for Council elections in the Wellington region will be inundated by sports players and parents over the coming months, demanding a review that lowers the costs for the region’s sportsgrounds and facilities.

Campaign group Affordable Sports for Greater Wellington today announced a mobilisation of sports codes in the region, to end high facility fees and make sports more affordable.

The group has been pulled together by five major codes: Wellington Hockey, Capital Football, Capital Basketball, Cricket Wellington, and Wellington Rugby, as well as College Sport Wellington.

Group Chair Lisa Jones said candidates would be asked by codes, clubs, players and parents to agree to an immediate review of sport fees, with an intent to lower charges for the region’s major sports organisations.

“They should expect the calls to start soon. This will be the number one issue for 300,000 players and parents – they will vote for candidates that put affordable sport first.

“Councils are making it too expensive to play sport because of the unfair fees to provide and maintain fields, turfs and indoor facilities.

“The rise of the cost of living now makes these fees a real threat to participation in sport. Councils say sport is good for residents’ wellbeing but do nothing to keep fees from going up, it’s now time for us to do something about it.”

The Wellington region has the most expensive fees in New Zealand for sports, clubs and schools to use Council grounds. Councils charge fees for use of fields in competitions, and fees to clubs for training, and for facilities such as changing rooms.

The high fees make player subs expensive. For example, $99 of $171 of every player’s sub for Capital Football goes to the Council. They then pay club subscriptions, which include another portion to council for training costs.

Senior College Basketball teams playing at Council venues pay nearly three times more per season than those playing at school venues.

Councils claim to charge codes, clubs and schools only about 15% of what it costs to own and maintain the facilities, but the great variation in fees and models makes it impossible to be sure.

For example, Wellington City Council charges $80/hr for an artificial turf. It claims this is a good deal because it is recovering only 40% of the true cost. Yet this $80/hr fee is the same as is charged by privately-owned turfs in Petone, Porirua, and Upper Hutt, which are charging 100% of their real cost (including depreciation).

If councils aren’t clear about what they charge sportsground users for, those paying to play could well be subsidising wider recreation activities and events across the region.