Stadium events incentive plan call

Dunedin city councillors have recommended the company that runs Forsyth Barr Stadium establish an events procurement strategy and investigate setting up an incentives fund for attracting events to the venue.

Increasing events and other usage was the main suggestion from respondents to a recent council survey on how to increase revenue from the stadium and cut costs and how the community could make the most of the venue.

After considering what Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) was already doing in response to many of the public's suggestions, a council subcommittee of Mayor Dave Cull and councillors Syd Brown, Kate Wilson, Chris Staynes and Lee Vandervis yesterday made five further recommendations to DVML and its parent company, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL), based on the public feedback.

The subcommittee recommended they be part of the companies' review of the community use and affordability of the stadium.

Asked about whether an events incentive fund was needed, DVML chief executive Darren Burden said a roofed stadium was attractive to promoters, but it was not enough for them.

There was a perception the promoter did not carry any risk, but quite often they put up the money themselves, so took a huge risk on an event, he said.

It was difficult to say what would clinch an event, as each promoter sought different things.

Promoters of sports events, for example, were interested in how much cash was in it for them from the venue, while others might want assistance with logistics, such as transport, or guarantees about ticket sales or media coverage.

Other promoters wanted to take more of the profits themselves.

"[At the moment] when it comes to getting them here, we come with nothing. The only leverage we have is to cut a significant discount offer in terms of venue hires, and that cuts out our revenue."

Mr Cull said a Melbourne event marketer recently told him local government there put millions of dollars into an event incentive fund, even though Melbourne had many great venues.

"It just shows we can't take [events] for granted, because we have a great venue."

Cr Brown said if events like the Elton John concert injected $14 million into the local economy, perhaps commercial as well as community contributions should be made to an incentive fund.

Cr Wilson said the sound issues with non-concert events needed to be sorted out, as well as those around major events.

A smartphone application, for example, with which people could connect to the stadium's sound system, would mean people could better hear commentary at sports events or events such as the recent rodeo, at which the sound quality was reportedly poor.

It could also be another way of increasing the revenue of the stadium, she said.

With regards to a special lottery, Cr Vandervis, who made a similar suggestion in 2010, said the idea was worth looking into.

"We need some kind of funding line where we are going to be able to get money from outside Dunedin."

One of the main issue would be getting lottery status for it.

"Whether it's a flyer depends on a lot of things, enthusiasm probably being the key thing."

He could think of plenty of things that would make great prizes, including Carisbrook seats and other memorabilia and signed All Black clothing, although he conceded it might be a bit late to set up a stadium lottery of the kind he had initially proposed because most of the Carisbrook chattels he proposed as prizes had since been disposed of.

"Some updated concept will hopefully still be investigated."

The subcommittee adjourned before considering other ideas suggested by the public, including grazing sheep in the stadium and using if for growing cannabis - although DVML has already told councillors it is "not sure this would be sanctioned and the power bill would be too high".

The subcommittee will also consider whether community events should be subsidised by commercial events or a ratepayer fund or subsidy. 

The five suggestions to DVML

Dunedin City Council subcommittee recommends Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and Dunedin City Holdings Ltd:

• Establish an event procurement strategy.
Investigate an events incentive fund and how it might be funded.
Investigate improving stadium sound for concert and non-concert events.
Keep up with artificial turf technology and be ready to make changes.
Investigate a stadium lottery.


Events fund

Two points about any proposed events fund for the stadium. Firstly, comparing Dunedin with Melbourne is laughable.  Melbourne is 40 times more populous than Dunedin and has large venues, infrastructure and good transport links with other large cities.  They get 90,000 to a regular AFL game, host major cricket tests and hold the Australian Open each year.  And that is just sporting fixtures.  Dunedin cannot hope to compete with large cities like Melbourne and we can't provide large city size events funds.

Secondly, I believe that any events fund means the ratepayers are entering the events business.  The "fund" will provide guarantees for promoters to transfer the risk of losses to the stadium.  This will incur further ratepayer costs on top of the free venue hires, loan interest and running costs.  Such incentives didn't work out well for Hamilton (V8s) or Auckland (David Beckham match)

In case you struggled to follow it

In case you struggled to follow the stadium saga, let me explain that so far DVL and its predecessers have shown a complete and spectacular inability to source funding from anything but publicly owned funds. That's why there is a problem.

Can't see the problem?

Stevepf asks what's the problems with the council's recommendation that DVL find a way to fund an events fund, because  "They are not saying the council or rate payers will be stumping the bill".

Stevepf may have forgotten all the "other" ways money for the stadium has been raised.  An understandable mistake, since it has been so little, so hugely hyped, so slow in arriving and so arguable as to whether it is donations, sponsorship, or payment in sort-of advance for services i.e. bookings for events including sports matches.

The usual means has been for us, through the council, to pay for borrowed money whether directly through rates added to our rates accounts or through reduced income to council because e.g. Delta has borrowed to pay extra demands to DCC which gets shuffled around the "initials", DCC, DVL, DVML until the speed of transfer confuses the eye of the observer, just like at a magic show.  

Next resource, especially with the S&P's dire warnings about how deep in the doo-doo we are, will surely be selling off our assets so private owners can pocket the profits.  And Stevepf thinks we should not worry. 

Rifling a few wallets

Steve: and yet here we have, in this very article, the mayor saying that it's common practice for local government to put millions of ratepayers' dollars into such fund. Saying that and then asking DVML to come up with a plan for funding is tantamount to him saying "tell us how much you want and we'll go and rifle their wallets again".

The point of  what I wrote below seems to have gone - zooom! - right over your head - if the private sector hasn't seen it to be in their interest to set up such a fund on their own - because they just wouldn't make the money back - then there's no point in the city doing it for them. Unless of course you're suggesting that the point is to fleece the ratepayers because the people already supposedly making bags of money from the stadium are too cheap to do it themselves.

What is the problem here?

In case you struggled to read the article, the council have recommended that DVL find a way to fund an events fund. They are not saying the council or rate payers will be stumping the bill so what are you all complaining about?

If its not funded by you, and it doesn't impact on your rates, stop your whinging and stadium bashing and let them get on with it.  

Build it and HE will come the correct line for the movie.

We just need to find out who "He" was.

Was it Elton John?

Was it Malcolm Farry?

Was it Sonny Bill Williams? 

Build it and they will come?

"It just shows we can't take [events] for granted, because we have a great venue." The mantra "build it and they will come" is now officially contradicted. And and isn't it even now being said of a certain hotel development?

Please, let us remind ourselves that building something superfluous to current and foreseen requirements, in the hope that a use will arise for it, is as foolish as building airstrips in jungles. It is a cargo-cult.


Greglies: if I remember the movie correctly if you build it ghosts will come, not actual people - I guess that's who all the empty seats are for.

Ghosts are not well known for actually paying to watch concerts and sports games, they tend to sneak in the back while no one's watching - planning our financial future on them showing up and spending up big might not have been a particularly bright idea. Those who continually parroted that line probably weren't really thinking about what they were saying.

Build it and they'll come

I was still under the impression that we built it, and so they were coming. Is the council now admitting that they're not? And who is being held accountable for that fallacy? 


A lottery. Really? Is that the best they can do, taxing stupidity?

Not real

The thing is that is the putative $14m worth of income into the local economy isn't real - most of it comes out of the local economy in the first place since its going to be mostly locals who go to the concerts, and a whole lot of that goes in GST and the fees to the artist and their promoters. It starts out as a zero sum game and just gets worse.

If the $14m per concert were really real we'd have already seen local businesses who expect to benefit, and the Chamber of Commerce, come to the table with a private fund to bring acts to the stadium - since we don't see them prepared to invest their own money in such a venture one must conclude that they have also decided the $14m is not real, or at least not real enough to make a profit.

Stadium sound

I've heard numerous times now about the stadium and its sound issues. My question is, what company is doing the sound?  

Excellent idea

Great way to lose more money.

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