Stadium rates revolt plan

Speaker Sukhi Turner addresses the audience at the Stop the Stadium meeting at the Dunedin Town Hall last night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Speaker Sukhi Turner addresses the audience at the Stop the Stadium meeting at the Dunedin Town Hall last night. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The Dunedin Town Hall echoed to the sound of a clapping and stamping crowd clearly and vociferously opposed to the proposed stadium last night.

The meeting, organised by Stop the Stadium, heard about the organisation's latest strategy - a plan to withhold the average $66 a year the Dunedin City Council has told ratepayers they will have to pay for the stadium.

Broadcaster Dougal Stevenson was master of ceremonies, and the speakers were Dunedin businessman Alistair Broad, Dunedin city councillor Dave Cull, Otago regional councillor Gerry Eckhoff, Dr Robert Hamlin, of the University of Otago School of Business, NHNZ chief executive Michael Stedman, and former Dunedin mayor Sukhi Turner.

The meeting attracted up to 1800 people, with both the ground floor and gallery levels, which seat more than 900 people each, almost full.

Mrs Turner complained about what she said was the "obscene haste" with which councillors were spending money that would drain the pockets of ratepayers for decades to come.

"Dunedin does not need a $200 million temple to rugby to survive as a city."

The average rate increase was supposed to be $66 a year, and, to make the council take notice she urged people to withhold that money.

A pamphlet distributed at the meeting said the strategy had been "confirmed" by the University of Otago faculty of law dean Prof Mark Henaghan as a "no-risk, low-cost means of protesting" to the council.

People should deduct $16.50 each quarter, which would attract a 10% annual penalty of $6.50, "but we think that there is no cheaper or more effective way of delivering a serious message to the council".

Asked after the meeting if that amount of money would make a difference, Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler said it was not so much the money as the message behind the action.

"It's to show the majority of citizens do not support the stadium."

Mr Broad said nobody knew what the stadium would cost, most households in Dunedin could not afford the rate rise to pay for it, the stadium would cost ratepayers' money to run, and there were many better ways to spend the money, including keeping the Highlanders at Carisbrook, buying the former chief post office, getting "Third-World" buses off the main street, putting State Highway 1 underground at the University of Otago, or reinstating trams.

Cr Eckhoff said the the stadium was designed to provide for the New Zealand Rugby Union and its international partners, despite them having no monetary input.

The public consultation on the project was a "sham" and the councils should have set up public focus groups and facilitated meetings between the Carisbrook Stadium Trust and those who opposed the project.

Mr Stedman said there had been a lack of detail and "non-partisan evidence" on what the stadium would be used for, and there were questions over whether the Otago Rugby Football Union would be able to pay to hire the stadium, as it was "failing dramatically".

Dr Hamlin said the money the trust had raised from seating packages was not capital, but revenue.

He said building companies were not insurance companies and could not provide certainties on the cost.

"A guaranteed maximum price contract with a very small hole in it is about as useful as a bicycle tyre with a very small hole in it."

Cr Dave Cull said the total project cost had risen by $10 million, the guaranteed maximum price contract offer contained loopholes that could expose the council to risk of price increases, a contract had not been finalised with the University of Otago, nor had an occupation and revenue agreement been signed between the Otago Rugby Union and the trust.

The meeting ended with a standing ovation for the speakers.


Woh, a self contradiction

A settler from 1800s that uses the internet? Must be quite a genius to embrace such technology in an instant if somehow it was found in the 1800s? (as implied) I see the purport attempt. Much like rugby I guess, a primeval sport for ego tripping players and it’s supporters, who can do all but jump up and down, shouting repeated, low intellect, corny banal slogans like ‘go the warriors', and often fight like cavemen when a team loses. It's well known that when a game is lost, the womans refuge fills up after violence from supporters of the losing team. An old 1800s colonist hangover is rugby; yes. And the point; here we are kowtowing to this fraternity with hundreds of millions of dollars so they or their idolized golden boys kicking the bag of wind don’t get cold or wet. Hardly cultural or constructive when looked at introspectively. And also just because a few arrogant people that shouldn't be running this city decided to mar the landscape with something they can leave as their personal mark. While my point was that this is a place of heritage, which now normally means character as well, (unless concrete and glass turns you on, Surfers Paradise, LA is for you!) and at the same time making character, iconic transport that is eco friendly. Plus some level of authenticity in a place is always welcomed. My other point if there’s some purport of anachronism in my post, is on the third world sewer pipe, that would currently be of an 1800s level. I was also pointing that enhancement of access to this city’s and surrounds of wildlife and scenery could well be better enhanced. So this, vs a giant mega costly box. Definately not ‘thinking outside the square’. Only in ever decreasing circles. Vibrant indeed, ha.

The poisonous 'live a little' philosophy

The present global economic crisis arose exactly because people chose “to live a little” and, to do so, borrowed money which created national debts that could not be honoured.

I, for one, am very angry with the self-centred, “live a little” proponents, who are the root cause of the current disaster.

The bankers and finance companies connived, but it was the 'live-now-pay-later' philosophy which is to blame for it all. Peter Bradshaw


Woh, it seems there is an early settler that has found access to the internet, managed to post a comment and send it forwards in time. Unbelievable. Go the Warriors.

Much excitment for nothing but debt?

Here we go again, it seems to be a number of out of towners that once lived here, who moved as they seem to like concrete glass and steel jungles such as Auckland, along with traffic jams, in the name of change for changes sake who think a 200 million plus glass box for a few odd boring rugby games is what Dunedin needs to stop stagnation. The city is renowned for its heritage, which also means character, this should take priority focus, thus the Post Office and heritage based enhancements should be priority number one. Really that goes without saying, but it appears to not be obvious to some people, lest of all the mayor and his council mates in the club. Trams are not only complementing and another visitor attraction, but they are clean and provide another form of public transport, something we need. They make money every day they run, Christchurch’s ones paid for the expenditure some years ago. If street cable cars were re-instated, the only city to have a peer on us would be San Francisco, and just look how the foresight of them keeping theirs paid of; it’s one of the city’s main icons.
As a footnote, some of the trams up there are Dunedin’s, (masquerading as if they were always Christchurch ones) and this highlights that most of Dunedin’s transport history is all elsewhere, trams, buses, locomotives and aircraft that served this region. That highlights the desperate need for a large transport and tech museum like MOTAT or Ferrymead. Transport shaped this rugged province, so lets perpetuate it right here. Another visitor attraction – too right. And what do more visitors do? Yrs, rather needed in times of economic downturn. It’s also highly educational.
If people like have a penchant for ‘development’ and to see a city sprawl, lose its soul, gain pollution, traffic jams and crowded ness, then they are welcome to stay there,. But do not condescend those who prefer keeping priorities right and not making the same mistake. People against bowling the town hall for an ugly modern grandiose edifice were similarly labelled whingers for standing up to this folly, but history proved such foresight to pay off. And it’s been these foresighted that make this city the heritage capital of New Zealand.
Secondly, we are a wildlife capital, the word eco comes to mind. But, we have a sewer pipe being upgraded to manage third world status, dumping sewerage into the ocean, so far making people who use the beaches sick. Disgusting, yes. While we already have a first world stadium for a few games each year, one that received millions on an upgrade less 10 years ago, common sense shows where priorities should lie, not blatant extravagance by people like spoilt children who want more – just so rugby and maybe a few other things seen without the wind bothering them. Putting on a warm jacket, gloves and a scarf is a far lot more obvious a choice than wasting such an incredible amount of money on a stadium, in a small city with a heritage and wildlife status. It’s as simple as that, and I think that's living a little, or a lot, rather than thinking rugby in a covered stadium will breath life into this town. I'm trying not to laugh.
And yes, we might as well distribute penny farthings because the public transport system will be non existant with all monies thrown at this grandiose elephant.


I think that your insight: "Could it be that 95% of the positive benefits from the new stadium...?" is very true - as the NZRFU has pointed out by booking the RWC at Carisbrook the current stadium is still quite viable and both venues would seat roughly the same numbers (Carisbrook slightly more) which any effect a game might have on the local economy will be about the same whether we build the stadium or not.

Live a little

I grew up in Dunedin and have recently relocated to Auckland for work. Although Dunedin is a fantastic city it is stagnant and needs change/progress to keep up with the rest of the country - what an opportunity a stadium like this may be. "Keeping the Highlanders at Carisbrook, buying the former chief post office, reinstating trams" Are you kidding? We may as well distribute penny farthings and waistcoasts to everybody in the city for the morning commute. This stadium is costly yes but live a little Dunedin. Stop whinging and get excited. Assuming we still had a rugby team in 10 years time are we still going to be playing 1st class rugby at the 'Brook? Really.

Stadium promises empty

In three years of hearing that parroted line "the stadium will be positive for Dunedin" - I haven't heard a single suporter quantify it - no one.
Every time you hear that line, you are guaranteed to hear nothing more than a very vague promise.
And a total inability to quantify any benefits.
Is that because for every $1000 dollars sunk into the stadium hole, it is forecast to earn just $1 back ?
($200,000,000 cost, $200,000 profit forecast).
Could it be that income from venue hire to events other than rugby is forecast to not even make 10% of total income? (thereby smashing the "more than just a rugby stadium" claim)
Could it be that 95% of the positive benefits from the new stadium, are already acrued with Carisbrook? (so we pay $200,000,000 to get a negligable gain).
Could it be that they take no account of removing 1/4 to 1/2 billion dollars out of the local economy, siphoning the majority off in interest, concrete, steel, and an Auckland construction company. With only a minor part remaining in Dunedin.
The fact is that pro-stadium people are unable to quantify any positive effect, because the actual financial effect of the stadium is very very negative.
Just like every virtually every other stadium around the world.

GST and stadium

The issue of GST has been focused on and this indeed is relevant. Taxes, paid by us, will be used to put $15,000,000 into the Stadium. When the GST is refunded, it will be paid by the tax payers. When rates are struck, there will be a GST component which will be paid by us. However we look at it, this stadium project is a loser for all of the ratepayers. If a consistent profit can be generated by this project when completed, we would like to be informed about it. We are only aware of the increase in rates without any returns to the Dunedin population and since the increase in rates is going to have this substantial GST component, making it much worse for the low income earners. There is no population base to make this a winner and the inability of the Council to see that, is not surprising. Desist, reject and concentrate on much better and more suitable issues. There are so many of them that have been mentioned before.


Wow. 22 Highlander rugby team players. 20% of stadium filled 3 times a year. Wow, I'm impressed. Wow, wow, wow, I can't get over it. Wow again

Yes, a poll would be good

Here we go again, insulting people who hold an opinion rather than taking issue with the opinion they hold. Oh, BTW, if the issue boils down to numbers in support or against, I for one would be strongly in favour of a poll. As a stadium opponent, I very much doubt that I would be in minority, but let’s put it to the test. Although I don’t think that finding the proponents in a minority makes them wrong in their opinions, it might put an end to some of the more irrelevant debating points.


Gotta love the way that only the antis are fully informed about the stadium and anyone who seems remotely in favour of the idea just can't know what they are talking about. Typical claims from those who turn up in strident minorities to claim they represent the majority. If those that turned up at the meeting were among the best and brightest in the city you might want to expand and refresh the talent pool, or are they bright simply because they agree with you.

So where's the 1800 strong meeting in favour of the stadium?

So where's the 1800 strong meeting in favour of the stadium?
I see Farry claimed support of all the rest of the residents who weren't at the meeting, but in the real world the most people I've seen in a meeting in support of the stadium is 7 or 8 councillors and maybe a dozen of their buddies.
Before it became evident that we don't even need a new stadium to hold RWC games support claimed for the stadium was dubious at best (ie it took a misleading survey to show around 51% for vs. 49% against; hardly good support).
But now no-one can still claim that the majority of the city support the stadium as proposed.
After all, if support for the proposed stadium was as strong as Farry and DCC councilors claim you'd think they'd welcome an informed referendum to vindicate themselves. I wonder why they're avoiding it?

Multi purpose, in a miniscule way

Rather than comment further, I'll quote an excerpt of the speech of one of the informed, professionals at the meet, Alistair Broad;
"It has since become clear that rugby cannot support a new stadium. Rugby can scarcely support its existing stadium.
With that realisation the Carisbrook Stadium Trust shifted its emphasis. The stadium would be multi use and those uses together with rugby would make it viable.
There is no evidence that there is a real use for the stadium outside rugby. The Stadium Trust itself struggles to explain its wider uses. I quote from the student publication Critic, March the 13th issue.
“So what do you get out of this stadium of you don’t like rugby, and you can’t afford those significant international concerts? Farry is enthusiastic, and vague, about the way students and the community will use the stadium outside of the big- ticket gigs. He argues that as a publicly owned stadium, it will be used much more often than the privately owned Carisbrook. He believes it could be open to the public when it is not in use, suggesting students could eat their lunch in the stadium.”
If it is used outside rugby only a fraction of its capacity will be used. And paid for. It will be like chartering a 747 to go grocery shopping.
A stadium is not a way of earning money. It is a way of spending money.
If the stadium was delivered to the city for nothing it would still run at a loss as stadiums around the world do 99.95 per cent of the time.
That annual loss will be carefully hidden in some non public council cupboard. But it will be real, and it will be borne by the ratepayers."
I love the 747 comment. Lunching in the stadium, what a laugh. Exactly. Perhaps people could grow tomatoes in it as well... And moreover we have facilities already in place that are more than adequate for the 'multi purpose' side things. What more do these "want want want" people want?

1800 plus introspective people

The usual pro stadium rhetoric, attack anyone who likes to keep familiar surroundings, (label them whingers), lest of all build an expensive monument to rugby. Oh, yes, let's do what everyone else does, remove any sense of authenticity, sense of place and character of a place, let's build generic malls and whatever other buildings of glass concrete and steel, so that no matter where in the world you go, it looks the same, whether it's parts of Christchurch, Surfers Paradise, or Phoenix USA as quick examples. Yes, development development, we don’t want anything to stay the same. We have an identity crisis, because we can't cope with having culture or something with aesthetics. The harbourside remains a harbourside, not another place full of rancid generic cafes with walls of glass and yuppies. Developing there in a proper sense would have seen the Steamship Te Whaka restored, (if the council had helped out with some money) or trams (that would keep plenty employed) and things for a heritage city (yes, heritage, that selling point of this city, but no, dirty word, modernising it's far more interesting and innovative –yeh right. Yes, well look what happens when people build build build, look at LA, renowned as a soulless sprawl. Look at Auckland even. You should move to such a place if such a love for 'development' spins your wheels. It comes with traffic jams and pollution, but while you wait, there’s miles of concrete and glass for you to admire – all that ‘development’. I’ve been there and the best part of the visits was leaving. As for South Dunedin, nothing wrong with it, true old world flavour of kiwiana, hidden treasures and not predictable like boring Wall St, etc, which are just like a mall anywhere else in the world. If you want to see a run down place, visit parts of Midland England, or even a better example, Bangladhesh. Short sighted is anyone who has to change, for changes sake, reveals a deep seated disorder. Non change, as in picturesque parts of England, buildings that have remained unchnaged for centries reveals the opposite, and travllers go there and spend their money, just as they come to Dunedin, not to see boring ugly modern rubbish with no styling.


DCC Here <-- --> Reality over Here

I think you're right

We need more non-service jobs that bring in wealth from outside the city, not things that just move it around. Displacing existing jobs that create wealth and replacing them with service jobs that don't is not a smart idea - we need to keep and nuture those jobs that make things.
Having a cafe/whatever zone down by the harbour would be nice, but I think would have unforeseen side effects - if it were successful it could decimate the existing downtown CBD - in many ways we're lucky we still have a viable CBD as a focus of the city - rather than a non-city spread among suburban malls.
Besides, have you sat by the harbour down there during a southerly?


"No-one wants the harbourside developed" - not so, Dunedinite. There are businesses in that area employing large numbers of people whose livelihoods will be put at risk by the development as planned. Mayor Chin and CEO Harland are adamant that foundries and industry can peacefully exist alongside aprtments, cafes and tree-lined boulevards. I say they should get real. Foundries produce noise and smell. I know I worked in a business that had one.
Also the harbourside plan as it now exists allows for a road right through an existing business and one that cannot be relocated. All this in favour of cafes which already exist uptown. Talk about the idiocy of decimating the CBD.Our harbourside cannot compare to Sydney's Darling Harbour/Circular Quay or Melbourne's South Bank - we don't have the climate.
What we do need in the harbourside area is that it is left as an existing working port with the heavy industry nearby which is compatible and which may be needed in the future if Dunedin is to be the supply base for an oil industry.

Councillor votes

A significant note in the Councillors vote was the movement of Councillor Hudson from a previous supporting vote to a present position voting against a hasty decision. Paul, I have to say that I never really had a lot of time for you. But hats off, you held your nerve at a time when it was needed. Might just keep you on after that. Shame there's not more like you where it matters.

RE: Dunedin?

Furthermore, in a recent article in the Critic, Malcolm Farry was cited as saying the stadium could be used for students to eat their lunch in. Brilliant.
I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think no formal analysis has been performed regarding the feasibility of the stadium being multi-purpose.
I hope I am wrong.
Also, I would love to know exactly what the $198 million is buying us - does it cover the turf? Temporary seats? etc.. or are we paying for an empty shell?

Stadium contract vote

Now that Councillors Acklin, Brown, Guest, Bezett, Collins, Noone, Walls and Mayor Chin have voted against delaying the awarding of the Stadium construction contract until after the LTCCP finalisation, despite a motion to the contrary at the Town Hall meeting, will any of them as our elected representatives be willing to publicly state their reasoning for such a decision based on facts ?
Or will this Mayor once again gag DCC councillors for some unknown reason ?

democratic process

I was not able to attend the meeting due to work- the need of small business to earn income to pay the bills like rates. I want to applaud the organisers' efforts to get real information out to us. The reporting in newspapers is disappointing as it leaves out so much while pushing some trendy story angle. The process for stadium approval has shocked and stunned me in its complete lack of democracy. No vote, tokenism to submissions, invoking commercial sensitivity when it really appears truth sensitive, and more. No surprise that faith in councillors' wisdom is very low. Hard to harbour respect while having a distinct feeling of being mugged.

Wow 1800 whingers

Wow 1800 of Dunedins best and biggest whingers showed up for a whinging session.
Theres what, 120,000 people in Dunedin yet these 1800 people seem to think they are Dunedin and that the stadium shouldn't go ahead because a couple of thousand don't want it to go ahead.
No wonder Dunedin is the way it is now, South Dunedin never got the mall it should of got, no one wants the harbourside developed, no one wants houses built in Dunedin, no one wants new/more shopping facilities. God help anyone who wants Dunedin to get out of the 1990s and into the 21st century! Time for a change, some new landmark facilities that gives Dunedin the edge over other places in New Zealand.
Redevelop South Dunedin.
Develop the harbourside with shopping, cafes etc etc. Thestadium is going to create jobs, something Dunedin doesn't really offer. Thank god the DCC has some foresight and trying to modernise Dunedin.


If it's not a rugby stadium we're in deep doo-doo - it's going to be completely empty. We've heard lots of things it might be - the Pope might be coming, or on the crusty demons will be able to use it (without damaging the grass surface, yeah right), people will be having conferences there (but won't be able to go on the grass - apparently there are conferences where 20,000 people sit in the stands and watch), we'll be having rock concerts there, but the promoters have turned it down (and we still couldn't go on the grass and dance anyway).
You may be right though even rugby has been pretty reticent about the stadium, refusing to become the anchor tenant (I doubt the Pope will be either) - they seem to be holding out on the CST in order to get a better deal for Carisbrook and to get their debts to the city forgotten about. The University will be using it to prop up a wall of a building, I guess that's a use. Really it all sounds like a bunch of people sat around a table and brainstormed about possible uses for the place then sent out a press release without actually doing any real research.

Own up DCC

A couple of direct questions that need direct answers.
Did DCC senior staff attempt to have Sunday evening's Town Hall booking cancelled? If so, did those senior staff consult with Mayor Chin on this issue?
Would the supporters of ratepayer funding for the proposed rugby stadium care to stage a public meeting. I would suggest that a suitable venue be the nearest telephone booth and even then I think it would be empty. Go on, advertise a supporters meeting for ratepayer funding for the stadium and see what you get.
Mayor Chin and visionary thinkers like Crs Bill Acklin, Syd Brown, Paul Hudson, Colin Weatherall, Neil Collins, Richard Walls, and hopefully Michael Guest could all try and convince you that you should be putting yourself into unforseeable debt.
Go on, call a meeting. For goodness sake, even don't charge for the Town Hall facility. Will you do it? Not a chance, because you know you wouldn't receive a modicum of support.

Have you considered this, 'OtepotiJ'?

From my understanding, should bookings for the rather inconsequential matches to be played in Dunedin be heavy, they might quite possibly be played at Carisbrook. It is evidently of no consequence to the NZRFU one way or another. The limited seating capacity of the 'Awatea Street Albatross' might preclude matches being held there, in view of the fact that these fixtures have only one aim, maximum profit.
In that event, the DCC and other organisations concerned with hosting the Rugby World Cup will not be able to resist showing off their purpose-built 'rugby' facility to the World, I am sure. The immediate reaction of the 'millions' of viewers whom 'OtepotiJ' expects to be blown-away by our new show-piece, is bound to be, 'If it's as good as they make out, then why aren't they using it?' What would he/she recommend we tell them?


The mayor realises like many of us that it is not a rugby stadium.
It is planned to be a multi-purpose facility and will be the best indoor venue in NZ.
You are misinformed...again! I can understand that though, the promotion of it has been poor, but partly because the prime opposition have been so negative, personal and vindictive that they have just got on with their core business. Remember Ian Taylor's resignation from the CST came early on as he simply could not work through something that attracted such a level of irrational, negative behaviour from members of the public.
The CST are very active in ensuring the future tenanting of the will be a new heart for Dunedin.

Rugby World Cup viewing

Good to see someone bring up the subject of the rugby world cup viewing audience, and what the new stadium might mean to the city in terms of future tourism. It's always important in these situations to put some perspective on things, put some meat on the bones, if you like. The major rugby playing regions of the world are UK, France, South Africa, and Australia. This is where the largest overseas viewing audience will be coming from. We can exclude much of Asia and the US from the mix, as the sport is so minor in those regions relative to current visitor numbers. Going back to those powerhouse viewing regions. According to the Dept of Statistics, in 2007, 50% of visitors to NZ came from those 4 areas. If you take Australia out (because they have their own bigger indoor stadium to go and look at ), the number drops to just over 13%. And those visitors, they spent an average of 17 days in the entire country. Given the increased costs in long haul air travel, which are not temporary, it is expected that the 13% will drop further. Would it not be more sensible to put our limited financial resources into attracting some of the majority of visitors into New Zealand who are not interested in the Rugby World Cup?


You're right, the council will be able to claim back all the GST - like any business they will offset the GST on their expenses by claiming it against the GST they charge on their incoming revenues.
Those revenues are the rates we pay.
My point was exactly that - We will be paying the GST on the stadium.

Mayor should resign

After committing the city to a $200,000,000 stadium, then admitting he hadn't even bothered to find out if the Highlanders would remain in Dunedin, Peter Chin should resign.
You'd expect a higher quality of due diligence with someone starting a minor business than the council took over the $200m stadium. They clearly haven't a clue about what they are doing.
The mayor can not be considered Dunedin's representative - more like our unrepresentative.
Mr Chin - go.

Why yes!

Why yes I have heard of the RWC - according to the NZRFU it's being held at Carisbrook, I don't think you'll be able to see the new stadium from there.
We couldn't hold the RWC games in the new stadium even if it was built - they'll be selling tickets based on the number of seats at Carisbrook, the new stadium would be too small to take over from Carisbrook.

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