Dunedin could face multimillion-dollar competition from New
Zealand's largest cities if it opts for a new events fund to
lure more big acts to Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The idea gained new momentum when deputy mayor Chris Staynes
threw his support behind the move last week, suggesting a new
targeted rate on the city's hospitality sector could help pay
for the fund.
That followed claims from Dunedin Venues Management Ltd the
stadium was missing big events - including an All Whites game
- because it could not compete with other cities' incentives.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull was yet to commit to the idea, but
said it was clear the city needed to "find ways to
incentivise events" after DVML confirmed a $3.2 million
annual loss last week.
However, even flush with a new fighting fund, Dunedin would
still face stiff competition from councils in Auckland,
Wellington and Christchurch, which were already investing
large - and in some cases growing - sums to secure events.
Auckland had created a new council-controlled organisation
for the job, armed with a nearly $10 million annual budget,
while Wellington was raising millions through a targeted rate
and Christchurch was spending millions more, the Otago
Daily Times has found.
Cr John Morrison, a Wellington city councillor, events
portfolio leader and Westpac Stadium Trust member, told the
ODT major events delivered significant economic
benefits, but competition to secure them was increasing.
That was due in part to new or upgraded stadia in main
centres - including Dunedin - but also a "more aggressive"
attitude from Auckland since the formation of the Super City.
"Auckland is coming to the table with a lot bigger purse than
they've ever come with before, and a lot more united.
"We're going to a gun fight with a water pistol when you
compare it to Auckland's income and money," he said.
In Dunedin, the city council had $1.189 million for events
support in 2012-13, including just $400,000 for major and
premiere events like the iD fashion show, council special
projects co-ordinator Kim Newman said.
Most of that was already spent, while another $408,000 of the
total budget was for civic events like the annual Santa
parade, and $50,000 for smaller community events.
Spending for one-off events had previously been approved on
top, funded from other budgets, including the cost of last
year's Rugby World Cup matches.
In Auckland, by comparison, a new council-controlled
organisation, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic
Development Ltd (ATEED), had a $9.7 million budget for
That paid for sponsorships, leveraging and assessing the
feasibility of proposals, and included $2.25 million in
financial support already allocated to 22 events during
2012-13, a spokeswoman confirmed.
The events included New Zealand Fashion Week, the Heineken
Open and ongoing support for the Warriors.
Auckland Council had also previously approved $1.5 million
for this year's Volvo Ocean Race stopover, which was deemed a
success but also highlighted some of the risks for councils
in the events market.
Bad weather cut the 16-day stopover to eight days, while the
number of boats arriving dropped from 10 to six, cutting the
city's economic return from $10.7 million to $5.9 million, an
economic impact report showed.
High-profile flops had also occurred in the past, including
in Hamilton, where the city council lost millions supporting
the V8 Supercars, and in Auckland, where the former regional
council lost $1.79 million supporting a David Beckham
exhibition football match in 2009.
However, Cr Morrison said Wellington's hospitality sector was
"dead keen" for more events, and paid more rates - through
the city's downtown levy - to help secure them.
The targeted rate applied to commercial ratepayers in
Wellington's CBD and funded council underwrites, grants and
other assistance for event organisers, including those behind
an AFL clash in the capital next year and the annual World of
Wearable Art event.
Exactly how much was spent each year remained a secret, but
it was "in the millions" and provided "terrific value", he
Wellington's funding was also set to increase, as a new
regional amenities fund created to collect extra
contributions from most councils across the region would add
an extra $1 million a year initially, possibly rising to $3
million a year in time, he said.
The fund would add to the pot used to attract events to the
region, including large concerts to Westpac Stadium.
Christchurch City Council budgeted $1.9 million each year for
"icon or major" festivals and events, such as the Ellerslie
International Flower Show, but did not have a discretionary
or special events fund, council marketing manager Richard
Instead, it had smaller budgets for sporting events and
offered non-cash help with marketing, equipment and in other
areas, including staff time.
Councillors could also approve additional one-off funding for
events, such as $900,000 for this year's New Zealand Open
events, council recreation and sports manager John Filsell
That meant overall spending could fluctuate from year to
year, but he confirmed the council had contributed cash and
other support worth $22,000 to secure October's All Whites
match - something Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium has so far
missed out on.