What is it about the Messara Report that has some clubs worried?
Perhaps it could be this sub-clause that forms part of the rationalisation of the venues.
Messara Report: Clause 4 page 74 states:
“To allow for recommendations 1 to 4 to be implemented, amend the Racing Act 2003 and any other relevant legislation to provide for the vesting in NZTR of the ownership of freehold racecourse land and other net assets of Race Clubs. This would allow NZTR, if it decided not to issue licences to a Race Club/s to hold any race meetings at a venue, to then take possession of the Race Club/s freehold racecourse land and sell the land with the proceeds being used to benefit the entire thoroughbred racing industry. The proposed amendments to the Racing Act 2003 should also facilitate the ability of NZTR to negotiate loans, secured by the freehold racecourse land, to fund infrastructure investment before the freehold land of the closed venues is sold.”
You can understand why some venues were not selected for closure as they are owned in Trusts of the community and there would be no freehold land available to sell. But this legislation once enacted can apply anytime NZTR wishes to raise capital, reduce venues or liquidate assets to cover operating costs or raise prize money.
Maybe the approach should be that Ellerslie’s and Avondale land values are so great their dates should be removed, the land value realised and the northern region racing held at an improved Counties venue and a new greenfield’s site north of the Auckland harbour. Isn’t that the approach NSW Harness took by selling Harold Park in central Sydney?
Being on the Board of NZTR will carry even more responsibility because a decision to sell industry assets to build a venue/track that eventually fails (eg synthetic track at Sunshine Coast or Geelong) is a bit like the path of those Clubs who have sold much of their land assets already (eg Trentham) and continue to struggle.
Rugby doesn’t have this issue because the Governments and communities saw the value in significant stadiums being funded by a broader base, not just the sport. Building Eden Park for All Black tests did not close the Dargaville rugby park.
No doubt there will be an interesting debate of who is on the Board of NZTR and how they are elected/appointed as they could be wealthy property owners within the year.
The full report can be found at https://www.dia.govt.nz/vwluResources/Racing-Report-August-2018/$file/Review-of-the-NZ-Racing-Industry-Report.pdf
Submissions on the report can be lodged by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to:
Department of Internal Affairs
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PO Box 805