Dunedin asked to revisit football bid

Rhiannon Martin.
Rhiannon Martin.
FIFA was impressed by Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday and tournament organisers want Dunedin to reconsider a hosting bid for 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup matches.

Fifa senior competitions event manager Rhiannon Martin said she was part of a seven-strong delegation visiting the hotels, training grounds and stadiums of the nine New Zealand cities that had lodged bids to host matches of the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

Although Dunedin had abandoned its bid, Fifa still wanted to see the stadium.

''We are all based in Zurich, so, as we are here, on the other side of the world in beautiful New Zealand, we thought we would take the opportunity to come and have a look.''

The stadium had an ''ideal'' capacity for hosting a grand final, she said.

''I've done stadium inspections throughout the world and I've never seen one with a glass [sic] roof. It is very impressive and the quality of the pitch is really good.''

The tournament would involve 24 teams playing 52 games in June and July, she said.

The tournament dates would dictate if Fifa required the exclusive use of the stadium during the event, she said.

''This would be something we would need to discuss. We have a whole legal team back in Zurich who will be working on the stadium agreements and host city agreements.''

Peter O'Hara.
Peter O'Hara.
However, Fifa was not considering the financial arrangements yet, which were being handled by the local organising committee, she said.

Local organising committee project manager Peter O'Hara said he had been planning the tournament for the past two years.

Although Dunedin had abandoned its bid, the council had offered to make the stadium available at ''nil or minimal cost'' so there was a chance Dunedin could still be involved, he said.

Last week, Mayor Dave Cull said when the council compared the costs imposed by Fifa to the likely returns, the economic benefit for Dunedin was marginal.

For the bid, it had been expected the council would have to pay $450,000 over three years to Fifa to cover Dunedin's share of tournament costs if its bid to secure games - including a semifinal and the final - was successful.

Mr O'Hara said an economic impact report created by an independent organisation showed how potential host cities could share in $25 million of economic benefits.

''And that's a very conservative number. It was deliberately conservative at the time because of the mood in New Zealand. People who have hosted sports events have been burned, and cities have been burned ... we have been careful to pitch it low.''

Hamilton put in a hosting bid after the sports and business community raised $400,000 and lobbied the council, he said.

He hoped the Dunedin community would ''step up and say `we really want this event','' he said.

''I think Dunedin has all sorts of options open to it and I'd love to see them explore them further in the next couple of weeks.''

The Fifa inspection tour of the nine cities would conclude next Thursday and he would meet Fifa in Zurich on February 12. A decision would be announced soon after, he said.


Turn the bidding around

FIFA is apparently keen to include Dunedin its plans.  That is good.  Not as good as Dave Cull's spinal resurgence when he told them, we can't afford it so we're out.  Now we seem to have reached a point where he can say to them, "If you want to use our facilities you are welcome to bid for them, and if your bid is acceptable to us, e.g. our ratepayers are not required to subsidise you and you do not get the use of facilities free, there is a good chance we will be happy to welcome you.  The ball's in your court now."

Hmm . . . .

More empty promises of riches coming Dunedin's way if you agree to host this tournament.  Same empty promises when Auckland hosted the America's Cup regatta, when other cities hosted RWC games.  The only people who benefit are the businesses, so how about they get together to stump up the readies.  Leave the ratepayers out of the equation, I'm sure you all have other priorities you'd like your hard earned money spent on.

I understand your point

@Fernfrond: and I agree with your other points. What I don't agree with is the ratepayers having to prop up every event held there when all that will profit from these events will be the hospitality industry. Perhaps the answer lies with the DCC raising rates to these people/businesses to ensure that any subsidies paid out are recovered from the few that benefit.

How to be fair

House: I agree it wasn't fair that the ratepayers had to pay millions to put on the RWC, and they didn't have a choice, we didn't have a referendum over the stadium, surveys at the time said that the vast majority didn't want to pay for the stadium, thousands marched in the streets to stop it, we filled the town hall to overflowing in protest, but our undemocratic council chose to ignore the ratepayers and build the stadium and put on the RWC anyway.

But to force the ratepayers to pay for all the other sports to do the same thing is simply more unfair to the ratepayers, not less. If you want to be fair take some of the other council money spent on rugby - maintenance of their grounds, the council subsidy for rugby clubs and their bars, the building we built for the Highlanders, the free practice areas we give them and give that money to the other sports. That's one way to be fair between sports codes.

Alternately we could be fair amongst all the codes by distributing the council's crippling rugby debt to everyone and having you all pay it.

Council buying events

I do not support councils "buying events" with ratepayer money; however, in the interests of fairness and equality (popular buzzwords these days) the council get involved as much as it did for the rugby world cup.

If the council are to back one sport over the other, well, that isn't fair on the people that like one of those sports.

This situation is the slippery slope the council (ratepayers) has got itself into. The sporting bodies know this too and because there are multiple councils wanting to buy their event, can play councils off against each other.

In terms of funding for this event, the private sector might have to step up; however, most of the time they'd rightly look for sponsorship as a return and these particular events are often clean stadium.

Once the council coughed up for the RWC did they think that the queue of others wanting money for their event would get shorter? It's only fair that other sports get events too, isn't it?

No handouts

Bring the games here but pay for them yourselves.

No DCC money.  Let Fifa have the bake sales and rent the stadium for the usual commercial fee. 

Fifa U20

@speedfreak43: I'm not sure that you understood my point. The stadium is not going away. We're stuck with it and the burden rests with the DCC to extract the best from it. The U20 Fifa World Cup is a big deal, not to you or others of a similar persuasion maybe, but internationally it matters. You need to realise that the stadium will continue to host events regardless and in all likelihood the DCC will in one form or another subsidise many of them. My view is that I'd rather have the DCC subsidise a quality event such as this as opposed to some third-rate vineyard act. The U20 World Cup offers quality in a way that few other events will. Some of these guys will be the football superstars of the future.

Personally I would like some accountability from those that dumped the stadium on ratepayers in the first place. Nonetheless, that doesn't change the reality, regrettable or otherwise, that the city needs to make use of it as opportunities arise. Fifa is one such opportunity and the council should take it, if for nothing else than to demonstrate that it's more than a rugby stadium.


Running at a loss

Is not beneficial to the city, Fernfrond. Feel free to put your money where your mouth is and agree to pay any losses incurred and we will be happy to let it run. BTW, this is Dunedin in NZ, not somewhere else. Soccer would rate 3rd at best in this country and this ain't even real soccer, it's under 20s. And to Fifa, if you can't afford to pay for the stadium, we could put you up at the Brook instead. It's bigger, has a better pitch but no roof, and we will do that at half the price.

Make hay while the sun shines

The DCC should be pragmatic here. They should recognise a decent opportunity when it arises and this is one such time. We're not talking about some third rate concert/event here. We're talking about the U20 Fifa World Cup. People care about this stuff.

Will it fill the stadium? God knows. Will it 'pay it's own way'? No idea. But at least with this, unlike some of the other fluff the stadium has hosted, it'll get bums on seats and it'll reach a genuinely global audience.

If the DCC is determined to 'make the stadium work' then this is an opportunity they should take far more seriously. In saying no to Fifa Cull has finally demonstrated that he is prepared to turn the DCC fiscal tap off. Unfortunately it seems to me that he has shut it off for the one stadium event that looks like it has the potential to bring real benefits to the city.

FIFA bid

"Mr O'Hara said an economic impact report created by an independent organisation showed how potential host cities could share in $25 million of economic benefits."

Not near good enough Mr O'Hara! Unfortunately for you and FIFA, Dunedin has had a surfeit of unfulfilled economic benefits in recent years, and also NZ as a whole in relation to the Rugby World Cup.

Your comment is too general and non-specific in relation to Dunedin. Are your "benefit" comments based on factual historical benefits to other cities in other countries, or are they based on notoriously unreliable statistical analysis based on populations and expected attendances? If the latter, I suggest you tear it up and try again with more substantive information.

Enough is enough

Just yesterday in the ODT council chief executive Paul Orders said: 'The cuts also created ''a level of headroom'' for councillors to make decisions about how best - or if at all - to spend the $1.4 million difference between a 2.8% and 4% rates increase'.

$450k handed to Fifa would equal a 0.385% rates rise.

When you are in debt you cut frivolities like football *games* and focus on delivering core services that directly affect people's lives.

No losses

JohnO: they're not even claiming that, they're claiming that if the city council spends that money then some private businesses in Dunedin will make that hypothetical amount of money, our near-bankrupt city council will still be half a million dollars worse off.

Private interests in Hamilton came forward when their city decided it wasn't a smart idea, the same can happen in Dunedin - if a consortium of local private interests hoping to benefit from some of that potential income want to come together and rent the stadium at a rate that doesn't cost the city or DVML a thing, can find a way to buy off the rugby interests that already have it booked, and then offer it to Fifa then more power to them. The city however should not be into running public spectacles at a loss be they rugby, soccer, or concerts like Elton John.

Forget it

We are not interested in another half a million dollar loss to the ratepayers. If you wish to use the stadium, you can pay for it. FIFA, you're just like the rugby union. Organise the game, take all the profit and leave the hosts with all the bills.

Has to stop.

Fifa Rhiannon and Peter

We like the beautiful game too. Please understand, The City has FA money. Will Fifa waive the half million fee?


So an independent organisation says that Dunedin could make $25 million in returns from the use of the stadium.  That is pure fiction.  Oh it's possible but is not guaranteed.  It is always the same when these people say this sort of thing.  It's a figure that someone comes up with over a cup of coffee in a cafe.  Purely circumstantial and should be looked at with a grain of salt.  [abridged]

Fantastic opportunity

What a great opportunity for the business community to host this tournament, it's time for the chamber of commerce to rally round the business and get the $450,000 to host this and another $100,000 for the hire of the stadium and get these games here, this could be the start of big things if they can pull this off.

We keep hearing of the economic returns these type of games bring to this city and we keep hearing how much some are making, now please put your $$ where your mouth is business community.

I also think Mr Farry and Mr Edgar might be interested in making a contribution to help benefit their city - ask them.

Hamilton sport and business have done it and so can we here in Dunedin.

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