Long-term park leases push Waikato Lacrosse out of Cambridge

05 May, 2018

One of Waikato's fastest growing sports has been forced to move out of Cambridge.

Waikato Lacrosse last year played its secondary school girls winter league at Tom Voyle Park, next to Cambridge High School, but will start the 2018 season on Saturday down the road at Tamahere.

Waikato Lacrosse President Ro Edge said up until about seven weeks ago, the sport didn't have a venue to host the 24 teams in its winter league.

"A lot of the grounds in Waipa are fixed, on long-term leases, so there's not much chance for new sports to get a foot in. Even if the leases aren't being used much by the clubs who actually hold them, they still have control over who uses them."

Edge said the sport had wanted to remain in Cambridge but was happy with a short-term lease agreement it had struck to use the new Tamahere Recreational Reserve.

Waikato Lacrosse had submitted to the Waipa District Council's 10-year plan to outline the problem.

"We've got about 380 players in the winter league. A lot of their parents would go into Cambridge to do shopping while their girls are warming up for games, or after games. That's a lot of people, between 400 to 500, Cambridge is missing out on now."

Edge said the sport had made a similar submission to the Hamilton City Council, where the focus had been put on new sports grounds in Rototuna.

"We think there should be a big push, working with other sports, on a multiple-purpose sports development, rather than one at Rototuna on the edge of the city, which will probably be mainly used by football."

She said the lacrosse community was looking forward to its first round of games at Tamahere. The winter league would be the first major sport competition played there.

"We're grateful to the Waikato District Council for giving us a short-term lease for this season. We would love it to be our base for the long term but are mindful we have to work in with others sports."

Edge said she hoped the lacrosse league, with its extra visitors every Saturday, would be the impetus for commercial development there.

"Hopefully someone will see the opportunity, for a cafe or pub, with lacrosse attracting new people to that community."

The lacrosse winter league includes secondary schools from Hamilton, Waipa, Waikato and Matamata-Piako. It would run from May to September.

Waipa District Council's Property Services Manager John Miles said the council had a community leasing policy which allowed sports clubs to have a five-year lease, with two rights of renewal of five years each.

"Most of our sporting leases are under this policy."

He said the council worked hard to accommodate sports teams and codes. Sports were encouraged to share facilities.

"We have recreation land, which is currently leased for grazing, that can be converted and is available for lease to sporting groups, however in some cases this land would need to be developed in order to be used as a sports ground.

"This would be the responsibility of the lease holder."

Miles said Waikato Lacrosse previously shared a lease with several other sports clubs at Tom Voyle Park in Cambridge.

"When lacrosse found this arrangement no longer suitable, we worked with them to find another location and suggested several available options." 

He acknowledged the council received a submission from the group for the 10-year plan and it would be considered, along with all other submissions, from Tuesday, May 8.

- Lawrence Gullery, Waikato Times

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