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The high economic value of a multi-use velodrome

3 May 21

The high economic value of a multi-use velodrome
For every 500 who would attend an elite cycling event, 105 would take an historic boat ride

Newly-released research shows the high potential value of a multi-use covered velodrome if one is built in Whanganui.

The Whanganui District Council is now considering what to build, if anything, as part of its Long Term Plan process. A decision is due in June on various options which include:

  • Decommissioning its current velodrome (buildt in 1995 but left without a roof and now closed because its world-class wooden track is rotting)
  • The council's currently preferred option to build a steel-clad velodrome for between $18.7 - $22 million providing for “cycling and some fitness usage” only, or a
  • $25.9 million multi-purpose development, capable of hosting multiple sports and events, proposed by the Regional Velodrome Development Trust, based on design and development over a fourteen year period.

A trust-commissioned a nationwide Horizon Research survey of 1,451 adult respondents, representing the 18+ popultion, was conducted in September 2020 (maximum margin of error overall of +/- 2.6%). Horizon partly funded the survey as one of the at least four public-good projects it runs each year.

The online survey measured definite intentions to attend each of 37 sporting and non-sporting events, comprising:

  • 10 cycling
  • 7 skating
  • 7 other types of named sporting events
  • 3 other types of non-sporting event, and
  • 6 cultural, musical or cultural events.

Results have now been released as part of LTP submissions.

The survey finds:

  • 44% of all respondents in the survey (an estimated 1,567,500 adults) would “definitely consider” attending some type of event in an all-weather velodrome venue in Whanganui.  Note that “consider” is not the same as “definitely attending”.

  • 45% of respondents living in the southern North Island region (all local authorities in a line crossing from New Plymouth to Taupo and Napier, down to Wellington City) would consider attending some type of event in an all-weather venue in Whanganui.  This is an estimated 375,000 adults.

  • Those considering attending an event at the covered venue in Whanganui:

  • Will also consider doing an average of 8.7 other Whanganui activities.
  • Will each spend an average of $888 on travel, accommodation, eating, event entry, sightseeing and other costs.
  • 54% would travel to Whanganui at any time during the year if the event appeals to them.
  • 18% would consider coming to an event in Whanganui in the next 12 months if an all-weather venue were available.  25% would consider attending an event in the next one to 2 years.

Horizon says the results demonstrate the high value of multiple events if the council opts for facility providing for those, particularly building to a standard which allows for world, national and regional cycling events. (Its current steel-clad design concept does not meet international event standards).

Cycling use and value projections:

For one of the following principal uses, cycling, New Zealanders say they'll definitely consider attending these events named in the survey in an all-weather covered velodrome:

NZ Elite Cycling Championship: $440,000 economic value for one event

Horizon says the research finds these potential values for a single NZ Elite Cycling Championship event, which would attract around 500 people for four days:


Average trip spending, per attendee

Elite Championship Number of attendees

Value per 100


Value per 500






It says the economic value will greatly increase when attendance at each of the10 other cycling events is calculated, including for regional performance hubs and camps, Oceania Cycling Championships, NZ Age Group events, North Island and other Schools racing competitions and cycling rehabilitation programmes.

Generally, it would be expected about $380 of the $880 in spending on each trip would be made in Whanganui.

Flow-on additional economic impacts and benefits:

Horizon says the research finds there are other potential flow-on benefits of attracting people to the widest-possible number of events held at an all-weather covered velodrome.

The research finds that those attending an event would, on average, also consider doing 8.7 other Whanganui activities while in the district.

The research reports this projected impact across more than 40 activities and places.

For example, in the chart below

  • 38% would consider taking a trip on an historic riverboat
  • 33% attend the Saturday river side market
  • 33% visit the botanical gardens
  • 29% visit museums
  • 26% visit the historic town centre
  • 25% ride an historic tram and
  • 21% visit the Serjeant Gallery.

Expressed in another way:

  • 21 of every 100 velodrome cycling event visitors would consider taking an historic riverboat ride
  • Of the 500 visiting for a NZ Elite Cycling Championship, 105 would potentially take an historic riverboat ride

(A full-sized version of this chart is included in the full report, available below).

Horizon says a covered velodrome would create opportunities to expand custom for activities like cycle trails, hunting and fishing, river-based jet boat and canoe tourism, and other non-velodrome events like V8 jet sprint boat racing, cemetery circuit motorcycle racing, vintage weekend, beach surfing, hunting and cricket.

Public support and opposition:

Results of a survey on what Whanganui District Council residents support or oppose has now also been released via the LTP submissions.

Results are from a Horizon Research survey of 418 adults aged 18+, representing the Whanganui District Council area adult population at the most recent census (maximum margin of error is ±4.9% overall).

71% want full development:

Respondents were told of development options which at that time ranged in cost from $3.6 million to demolish the velodrome, to $26.3 million for a full development and were told that further options could emerge.

  • The survey found overwhelming support for full development: 71%
  • The option to roof the velodrome and provide for cycling, speed skating and some concert capability, had 15% support
  • Roofing the velodrome for cycling use only was supported by 4%
  • 9% wanted the velodrome demolished.

If no funding from Government:

To further test the strength of support or opposition, respondents were then asked what they favoured if there were no funding from Government:

  • 52% wanted to fully develop the velodrome as a stadium for cycling, other sports, rehabilitation, community, cultural, concert and other events
  • 30% wanted to keep the velodrome and develop it in some way, mainly for cycling and some other activities
  • 19% wanted to demolish it and use the area for something else.

The full research reports can be downloaded here:

Demand and economic value

Residents' views on velodrome development

For further information please contact:

Graeme Colman, Principal, Horizon Research Limited, email, telephone +64 21 848 576.