Toilets, lift added to stadium space

A fresh war of words has broken out over suggestions Forsyth Barr Stadium has been caught short by missing toilets inside the venue.

It emerged this week Dunedin Venues Management Ltd - which runs the roofed stadium - had spent $166,000 in recent months adding new toilets and a service lift stop on Level 2A, inside the stadium's south stand.

The work was completed in August, and was needed to service a nearby office and function area that was proving hard to lease without the services, DVML chairman Sir John Hansen confirmed when contacted.

The situation came to light after an email exchange from October, involving DVML chief executive Darren Burden, Cr Lee Vandervis and former Dunedin City Council chief executive Paul Orders, was published online this week.

In it, Mr Burden, responding to questions from Cr Vandervis, confirmed the installation of new toilets inside the venue, ''which in an ideal world would have been installed as part of the original build''.

Sir John, asked about the email, told the Otago Daily Times the improvements were needed to bring the area up to a standard that was ''actually usable''.

Previously, prospective tenants looking at the space had been put off by the absence of a service lift stop and lack of toilets on the same level, he said.

''There was no lift stopping there, there was no toilet there. It made it very, very hard to make it a valuable commercial space.

''As soon as any potential tenants looked at something, they'd say they had to go up or downstairs to toilets and they weren't interested,'' he said.

DVML staff confirmed this week male and female toilet blocks - with nine toilets in total - had been added, for use by three tenants inside the Level 2A office space.

The tenants included the Otago Rugby Football Union and the Otago Rugby Supporters Club, as well as a third unnamed tenant, staff said.

The work was carried out after a business case was prepared. The revamped area had already hosted four ''revenue-generating events'' since the work was completed, with more planned, staff said.

Sir John, asked about Mr Burden's suggestion the facilities should ideally have formed part of the original build, said that was ''fair comment''.

However, he declined to elaborate, saying questions about whether the omission was a cost-saving measure were ''for the Carisbrook Stadium Trust''.

''There's a whole lot of stuff that can be gone over and over and over here. We've just got to get on with it.''

CST chairman Malcolm Farry denied the toilets had been omitted to save money, saying comments were being made ''without an understanding of the true position''.

He said Level 2A was added later in the stadium's design phase, after it was noted there was enough room for an extra floor.

The decision aimed to maximise returns from the venue, but had to be done within the previously agreed budget.

That meant there was always an understanding the floor would be a ''shell'', with toilets and other facilities to be added later, at tenants' expense, as part of the fit-out, he said.

He had no knowledge of what had transpired since the creation of DVML, which assumed responsibility for the venue, but insisted: ''There was no 'cost saving' element in this.

''Indeed, there was, in fact, additional cost incurred to create the space,'' he said.

Asked if Mr Farry's comments were correct, Sir John, through a spokeswoman, would only say: ''No comment.''

He said he saw no need to publicise the project at the time.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

Where the real profit comes from

With the Dunedin Centre reopened, DVML's books will start to look better. However there has been a considerable decline in large profitable events at FSB to the Dunedin Centre. Of course it will be hard to find thius within the DVML financial statements and so people, including city councillors, will be misled into believing that FSB stadium is making money when it isn't.

I too would like Dunedin to be more vibrant than it currently appears. Rugby and the stadium isn't the answer. And poor civic and business leadership and an ageing population will not get us there.

The relatively small 'young' population is disadvantaged by an old thinking, financially self interested business community that effectively asset strips Dunedin's economy to fund growth in other areas through property and business.

Will Dunedin become ' a city of shopkeepers'? 

What is the real financial situation?

Stevepf - Isn't this part of the problem? Endless speculation about how much the stadium makes or loses? We do know DVML lost $1.3 million last year, and we know $3.1 million was lost on Carisbrook. Did the large concerts make money? Do the small events make money? We also know the stadium's rates have been waived in an effort to stem the losses on paper anyway. You are correct re the Chinese Garden, which loses $500,000 pa, and Toitu, which has an operational cost of $7.2 million pa and charges nothing for entry. They just add to the huge impost on ratepayers at a time when Dunedin is struggling like never before.

What should we do with the stadium now?

Stevepf: I don't believe that in any dispassionate and independent review of rugby stadiums found the world that the Awatea Street stadium would make the top 10. But these weren't the issues that you were invited to publicly debate.  I guess that you aren't too comfortable in discussing pokie fund activities round professional rugby, nor the immense and on-going subsidies of professional rugby by city ratepayers. You do ask however for constructive comment on what to do with the thing now it is here.  

Firstly some strong accountability by the very few that determined it was going ahead no matter what.  You know and I know just who those people were that provided, lets say, "misguided" information and decisions.  Or do you think that those involved should just "walk away"?

Next, realistic on-going income from professional rugby to cover the costs of running the stadium which has been recently acknowledged by independent reviewers to be nothing else than a rugby stadium.

Next up, the rugby community to stump up with the $45m that was promised as private construction costs.  All promise and no results - a little like the performance of the professional teams when you think about it.

Lastly, a truly independent review on whether it would make more sense to mothball the place.  The ratepayers can't do anything about the construction debt, but they can do something about the on-going huge operational losses.  If that review finds that the place should stay open for strong community reasons, then fair enough.  But equally, if it isn't worth it, then do the right thing and close the doors and limit the losses. [Abridged]

 

Accommodation on the improve

Also re hotel and motels - according to the Commercial Accommodation Monitor,  June, July and August were some of the strongest in years. Yes, September was down, but I would say things are on the increase. I believe the reopening of the Dunedin Centre has a lot to do with that with conferences and events being held there.

Stadium

Stevesone: I hear what you are saying, but just because there isn't a major concert it doesnt mean its not being used and paying its way. It's actually the smaller events that make the stadium more money. The larger events just make more for the community.  DVL have started showung profits for their events and are certainly working smarter, I believe. Why is it only the stadium saddling ratepayers with debt? What about Toitu, Otago Museum, public library, Town Hall redevelopment, Chinese Gardens etc?
At least the stadium pumps money into the economy with events (as does the town hall). The others simply benefit the community and I think a lot of us could say we are complacent when it comes to using local assets available to us.  

Easy as ABC

A/ "bringing money into our economy. $15m in one weekend for a concert": It has already been shown that there is no new money coming into the economy - there is just a focusing of existing local discretionary spending on one event instead of several events. A rugby ticket instead of a night at the movies. One busines wins while another business loses. The net effect is zero.

B/ "multi-purpose and is used by a lot of people for various things - conferences, festivals, concerts, rodeos, sporting events, community use (markets etc). All bring money to the economy and work with the community". All events which can be, and have been, held at other existing venues within the city. A new stadium was not necessary to host those events. Again, no new money coming in, and a loss for the current venue providers which are also ratepayer owned.

C/ "The Fifa World Cup". A few years ago Dunedin did host a Fifa World Cup event, at Carisbrook. Worked out very well. Other venues don't have a roof on their stadium, and they have also been awarded matches in the upcoming tournament, matches of a higher calibre. So having a roof didn't make the deal. What gave Dunedin matches was that there were simply not enough cities who were interested in hosting the event, due to the high operating costs and low returns. Football fans do not fly around the world from Uruguay to follow their U20 team. The only money coming in will be from local attendees. Again it is existing money being recirculated. Due to the lack of national interest, any town who held their hand up got given matches.

World class facility

FSB is a world class rugby stadium - no argument. The problem is that the city simply cannot afford it. Despite some saying it brings millions to the town, ratepayers are currently $628 million in debt, and the total is rising. The last major concert was Aerosmith in April and there are no major concerts scheduled for the summer or autumn.
The stadium is not paying its way and this will force the council to keep raising rates year on year at more than twice the rate of inflation. Local motel and hotel occupancy rates are at all time lows, retailers are closing and the local economy is one of the worst performing in the country. There is simply no evidence that the stadium is some kind of financial windfall for the city.
If you want business to come to town we must have reasonable council rates and a vibrant economy, and we have neither. Like it or not the purpose built rugby stadium is a massive financial impost on ratepayers which cannot be sustained.
The lottery idea is OK by me - I am more than happy to purchase a few tickets.

Plenty of positives

There are plenty of positives if you are prepared to see them ... aside from costing rate payers money (I have never debated that point) ...

A/ a world class facility that is bringing money into our economy. $15m in one weekend for a concert, close to that on multiple test weekends and events. You'll argue these figures are wrong but hey, I don't expect you to listen (I don't hear you arguing that the council give $90k a year to iD fashion week when it brings in less than a million).
B/ it's multi-purpose and is used by a lot of people for various things - conferences, festivals, concerts, rodeos, sporting events, community use (markets etc). All bring money to the economy and work with the community
C/ despite what you believe it shows that Dunedin is on the world stage, is progressive and forward thinking - we can host the worlds best. This being seen in the selection for Fifa under 20 WC despite not forking out the money they wanted. The rugby world hail it as best stadium in the world (but hey, I know you don't like rugby).
I could go on but the reality is you are only interested in the argument of money so I'll never win. My generation and the one coming through now are more interested in making this city vibrant and progressive and don't mind paying money for this asset. All stadiums around the world lose money for the greater good.
So I challenge you to tell me why you are so displeased with the stadium ... money aside. It's not going to disappear now it's built so how about putting your efforts into suggesting ways for it to better benefit you and the community?

 

Positives

Stevepf says to russandbev you are not open to the positives for the stadium.
Although stevepf doesn't want to enter into a debate as challenged, perhaps instead he/she could dispassionately set out what the positives are, for other readers.
These will most likely involve tangibles and intangibles, as with any major building complex.

I couldn't think of anything worse

Bev I couldn't think of anything worse than having this debate. A/ because you are not open to the positives for the stadium. I know it's losing money at our expense but I see the greater good coming from it thus supporting it and most importantly B/ I don't have the time to protest everything that our council does. So I wouldn't want to spend any spare time debating it with you. No offense but I try not to let this stuff consume my time

So thanks for your challenge but I decline. I'm sure you'll take this as I can't argue the facts but I can live with that! 

Down the drains

This was a spousal insult in the language of the Wellington tenements. My neighbour, a costermonger, expressed concern about 'the drains'. His wife, always alert to insult opportunity, berated thus: "Youve been down the drains all your life. I've seen better things than you floating down them!".

Not really a surprise to not have a public debate

Well I note with not much surprise that Stevepf has failed to accept my invitation to publically debate the issues of ratepayers subsidies to professional rugby, pokie rorts and the role of the DCC and the ORFU.  Up to Stevepf of course to decline or accept, but in the future when these issues come up through the columns of the ODT, as they surely will, then I think we can gauge just how sure the rugby proponents will be to fail to show up in any meaningful way.

Public debate anyone?

Stevepf, I'd love to meet up with you to debate the realities of local government responsibilities, and then perhaps we could discuss ORFU subsidies by ratepayers and maybe finish off with pokie fund activities. How about a public debate between you and some of your mates and me and some of mine?  Or would you prefer to remain anonymous?  I'm sure we could get a suitable venue apart from your rugby stadium.

Realist stadium debaters

I too have seen the space on 2A. It is very usable but not in it's current form. Some work had aleady been done over the last few years to make it more usable but the lack of toilets and easy access were a huge turn off.

But Level 2A will never pay for itself. Why? Because the subsidised ORFU have office space there and the venue as a whole is losing money hand over fist.

And compounding this is the fact the Dunedin Centre is now back in operation so there is less opportunity for DVML to capitalise on the upgraded Level 2A. Unless of course they fill it at discounted rates to make it look like it is well utilised and 'paying it's way'.

Laughing like drains?

Dunners, you may not have heard the expression, but most appropriate. To laugh very loudly, with derision or to mock. 

Get real stadium haters

I've seen that space, and it's fantastic - but not commercially viable without service lifts and toilets. That area now stands to be able to gain additional tenants and also better use of the large space that is there for events and functions. This would pay off that spend over a couple of years tops.

This is not another opportunity for you to all complain about transparency and money spent. Does Toitu, the Public Library, Art Gallery, Chinese Gardens and Otago Museum all tell you every dollar they spend on maintenance and upgrading of facilities? I dont see Cr Vandervis kicking up a stink about that.

Cr Vandervis is just taking the opportunity to rile up the anti-stadium brigade so that his voice is heard after being stifled by colleagues. [Abridged]

 

Yet more spin

Yes folks, only another $160,000 to add to all the other little things that need doing at the stadium. A new sound system at $800,000 to replace the old $300,000 model, just another million or so this time. Just keep increasing the rates at double the rate of inflation year on year, that's the ticket. This will ensure businesses flock to Dunedin to take advantage of our escalating rates, diminishing work force, and complete lack of economic growth. Lets just keep pumping millions into the stadium to support our bottom of the table Highlanders and second division Otago Rugby Team. Way to go Dunedin!

Laughing like drains?

Now that made me chuckle. I've never seen a laughing drain before.

No surprise at all

Still more avoidance of facts by all concerned. It is no surprise at all that it is the ORFU and their close mates that have their tenanted area upgraded by ratepayers forking out $166,000 to give them more convenient toilets and a service lift. Note carefully that no mention has been made of raised rentals for their space within the rugby stadium. And of course it isn't Burden's fault, nor Hansen's fault, nor Farry's fault. It just happens.

Coupled with the city's other lavish spending on training facilities, million dollar changing rooms closed to everyone else, gym facilities and the like, the people that run professional rugby must be laughing like drains at the idiots that keep on paying for the running costs of their business - the ratepayers.

More entitlement

So if the stadium was built with the toilets and lift on this floor  supposed to "be added later at the tenant's expense" why aren't the tenants paying  for the fitout of their space themselves? is this yet another case of the ratepayers stumping up because rugby is so entitled, if the ORFU and their supporters don't want to pay for toilets surely they're big strapping guys, they can walk down the stairs.

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