The City Transformation Committee is today expected to recommend Tauranga City Council go for an even bigger performance centre than originally proposed.
The consultants advising on the project say a larger performing arts centre - seating 1500-1600 people - is better commercially, culturally and socially, than the 1200 seat facility originally proposed.
Horwath HTL say the original 1200 seats suggestion isn't based on any research, whereas the requirement for the larger facility is firmly based on market research; consultations with organisations in the performing arts centre like the Royal NZ Ballet, the NZSO, NZ Opera and a number of commercial promoters.
Horwath's brief to answer whether the council should reserve space on the Willow Street site for a new performance venue to be developed at some future time; and whether there's justification to undertake a detailed business case, and when that should happen, is replied with a firm ‘yes' and that it should happen now because there is a gap in the market.
Horwath HTL was also asked to see if there's a case to expand the seating at the existing Baycourt Theatre, either as an intermediate step or an alternative.
Their report to the committee was previously workshopped by committee members on September 5. There is a firm recommendation to allocate $500,000 in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan for a detailed business case which will define service requirements, ie how big it should actually be, the costs and benefits, as well the commercial and management aspects of a new performance venue. It is recommended that the work takes place in years 2019/2020.
The recommendations for the Transformation Committee members include funding.
The commercial viability is looking good enough for the Giblin Group, a specialist consultancy for raising capital towards plans and projects, to expect the council to be able to raise 50 per cent of the total $78.4 million from grants and bequests, leaving ratepayers to fund a $40 million loan for the balance.
Today's recommendation also confirms the council's capital commitment depends on 50 per cent of the build cost coming from other sources.