INDEPENDENT NEWS

Racetracks Benefit Community - City Council

Published: Tue 5 Oct 1999 09:50 AM
Auckland City Council - City Scene
Community benefits from racetracks: Alexandra Park
The three racetracks located within Auckland City - Alexandra Park, Ellerslie and Avondale - provide considerable benefits to the community.
Alexandra Park in Epsom, three minutes drive off the southern motorway, is the headquarters for the Auckland Trotting Club, which owns the freehold of the 50 acre property, with a book value of $30 million. It is administered by a Board of Management under chairman and Club president Brian Meale, and general manager Graham Dale.
Brian Meale says although Alexandra Park is owned by the Club, he regards it as an integral part of the city's entertainment and recreational facilities.
"We are a large landowner, paying Auckland City over $150,000 in rates and the park provides priceless green space in a highly developed suburb.
"We want to encourage the use of the grounds and buildings for community purposes. The park has been used for circuses, specialist sports events, Expos and conferences, horse events, motor shows, boat shows, weddings, company annual meetings and so on."
One of the benefits of the complex is its off-street parking for 1700 vehicles. This is available to visitors to Greenlane Hospital, and events at Auckland Showgrounds.
Brian Meale sees the possible development of park and ride facilities as a real option for the future.
The park's main purpose is running 45 race meetings annually, which provide a proving ground for the New Zealand standardbred, which is now a significant export earner. Last year, horse exports were worth $90 million to the country's economy. About a third of the total came from standardbreds exported to Australia, the United States and Canada.
Racing is at night under lights, and a recent move to Thursdays will free up the facilities for other uses on Friday and Saturday nights, providing more scope for other functions.
In anticipation of increased demand, the Club has embarked on an ambitious programme of upgrading its restaurants and bars. It also runs its own catering operation.
Future developments at Alexandra Park include the building of a 1200 pupil secondary school on a portion of the club's carpark, and the development of the school's playing fields inside the existing racetrack.
"The Club is developing future options in association with planners from Auckland City, and wants to ensure local people are included in the development process," says Brian Meale.
"By April next year we expect to have reached agreement on plans for the future of Alexandra Park, and all major redevelopment projects will be finished in 18 months".

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