Call for new stadium events fund backed

Darren Burden.
Darren Burden.
Dunedin city councillors support a new $400,000 annual fighting fund to lure more major concerts, and the millions of dollars of extra spending that comes with them, to Dunedin.

The move came during the Dunedin City Council's 2013-14 pre-draft annual plan meeting yesterday, as councillors also signalled a targeted rate could be used to ensure businesses helped pay for the fund in future.

The moves - subject to public consultation over the next few months - came after Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive Darren Burden yesterday presented the case for a new fund to councillors.

He argued the extra spending would generate returns that helped boost DVML's revenue, but would also bring millions of dollars in extra spending to the city's bars, restaurants, hotels and other businesses.

Mr Burden told councillors DVML did not yet have a good reputation for offering the type of support promoters were looking for, and could not rely on the stadium's reputation alone to compete with other centres.

Dunedin had already missed out on some events without the fund, and, even now, DVML had deals ''on the table'' for two major concerts that could be secured if an events fund was already in place, he said.

One of those was a ''substantial'' international concert, but the promoter was looking for up to $600,000 in support to offset the cost of transporting equipment to Dunedin, he said.

That could be reduced by negotiation, but typically promoters wanted support because of the millions of dollars their events would inject into the city's economy, he told councillors.

His arguments ran into opposition from Cr Lee Vandervis, who questioned whether stadium events delivered additional economic benefits or largely moved money around within Dunedin.

Mr Burden disputed the latter, citing an economic impact report on Sir Elton John's stadium concert, estimated to have contributed $14 million to the city's economy.

The exact figure could be disputed, but with half the 35,000-strong crowd for the show coming into Dunedin from elsewhere, returns for the city were ''in that sort of ballpark'', he said.

Crs Kate Wilson and Richard Thomson agreed, saying their businesses had recorded substantial increases in turnover at the time of Sir Elton's concert, and other businesses would, too, in future.

At present, music fans who could afford to were flying to other centres to attend concerts, taking ''considerable sums of money'' out of the city, Cr Thomson said.

Those who could not afford to fly were forced to miss out, he said.

''For me, this is actually about delivering real benefit to our region,'' he said.

Cr Syd Brown hoped the ''modest'' extra investment would allow the stadium, and the city, to ''punch above our weight''.

''I'm quite confident we can.''

Other councillors also supported the move, including deputy mayor Chris Staynes, who said even if the economic impact of shows like Sir Elton's was only half what was claimed, it was still ''a pretty good investment''.

Mayor Dave Cull stressed any fund was not designed to ''prop up'' the stadium's finances, but rather to deliver wider economic benefits for the city.

Mr Burden said the sum required, of $400,000 a year, was based on discussion with council staff and promoters about the level of support needed.

Each year's allocation could be spent supporting one or more events, but the aim would be to generate a profit for DVML as well as returns for the city's economy, he said.

Each deal with a promoter was also ''unique'', and, for example, meant underwriting could be offered that required a promoter to return DVML's incentives if ticket sales went beyond a certain point.

Council chief executive Paul Orders said money for the new events fund could, for 2013-14, come from the council's economic development and Tourism Dunedin budgets, meaning no additional pressure on rates.

The council was already reviewing those budgets, which were together worth about $2 million a year, to align them with the city's new economic development strategy, he said.

Councillors also voted to reconsider the size of the existing tourism and economic development targeted rate, opening the door to an increase to help pay for the events fund, following a suggestion by Cr Jinty MacTavish.

The work would lead to a report in time for next year's budget meetings.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Perceptions

"Crs Kate Wilson and Richard Thomson agreed, saying their businesses had recorded substantial increases in turnover at the time of Sir Elton's concert".  Adding some personal knowledge to a statement made by Mr Burden, how is this "publicly flaunting" their success over the EJ weekend.

As a rate payer I reserve the right to enjoy and bask in the glory of the stadium and happily hand over my portion of the cost, but don't moan at having to pay for things I don't agree with or use (and no I won't pay your share aswell, that's what being part of a democracy gets you).

I wonder if Cr Vandervis ever benefited from events held in DN, when he owned his lighting and sound business.  Should we ban all fanchise holders of fastfood outlets, convienience stores, gas stations, accommodation etc etc, from local body politics?

Dunedin is not that big that most people who have business interests will not in some way be effected by major events in the area.  So 'Get Real' boys it's here to stay and there ain't nothing you can do about it!!!

Not consumed, just damned angry

@Bahrain expat: This stadium should never have been entertained against the wishes of of those that would end up having to pay for it and how it ever got through against overwhelming odds still miffs me. We knew it would be a lemon and we have been proved right.

For the last half a dozen years I have been employed by a local company with varied business interests ranging from automotive to food supply. I questioned the managing director on the take for the RWC weekend and he stated to me that even the food side of things did not show a noticeable increase over any other weekend.

I have no problem with councillors having business interests but to publicly flaunt that they made good profits over said weekend just shows their arrogance and the fact they dont really care about those struggling to put food on the table.

Legality

The law is very explicit, councillors who have a pecuniary interest in an issue may not vote on that issue, nor may they even be involved in discussions - they may not lobby their colleagues behind the scenes - these councillors have already stepped beyond what is legal - they have been elected to represent all of us, not that small minority of business people who sometimes seem to think they own this town.

Get real

What line of business are you in Speedfreak?  Maybe by it's very nature you would not expect to benefit from stadium activities.

Are councillors not elected as people from the community, business owners, public figures etc, are they supposed to stop being business owners if elected, just in case they have a conflict of interest.  Get real.  You and Mike have become so consumed by this issue, you now see conspiracy everywhere.

Nice to see

The businesses of Crs Wilson and Thomson recorded substantial increases in turnover over the EJ concert weekend. The company I was with at the time, which employes 50-60 staff and has an annual turnover in excess of $2 million dollars, saw no obvious increase and banking totals were similar to any other weekend.

Makes you wonder about inside agendas here doesn't it? 

I have taken note and neither of you will receive my vote at the next election 

Conflicts of interest

I see that Crs Wilson and Thomson say that they make money from the stadium - it's obvious that they have conflicts of interest and will not be able to vote on future stadium funding issues - do any other councilors have confliccts? Cr Acklin has performed there, he must make money from it too, Cr Weatherall was chairman of the ORFU Board for over a decade.

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