University buys the 'Bowler'

Historic "student pub" the Bowling Green Tavern has been bought by the University of Otago and will be turned into academic offices to meet the university's "pressing need" for research and teaching space.

The announcement about the fate of the often notorious student pub, situated on the corner of Frederick and Cumberland Sts, was made by vice-chancellor David Skegg at the university council meeting yesterday.

University property services director Barry Mackay said the building would be converted to office space for academics from the health science department and would be renamed. The car park would remain.

It was expected the space would be available for use by the end of the year.

He declined to reveal how much was paid for the building as it was "commercially sensitive".

Prof Skegg said the university could draw satisfaction from the fact the pub, which has operated under various licence holders since 1878, would be helping to meet the university's need for more space for research for the health sciences.

"Under university ownership, this building will no longer operate as a liquor outlet.

"The Bowling Green Hotel was a historic student pub, but it has been involved in some inappropriate promotions in recent years," Prof Skegg said.

In February 2007, emergency services and the university were horrified when the general manager of the "Bowler", Mark Deason, had 15,000 pamphlets printed advertising a swap petrol-for-beer promotion, offering the chance to win a petrol-soaked couch, complete with matches.

Along with the sofa, the promotion offered to swap punters a litre of beer for a litre of petrol.

Mr Deason faced a charge of sedition for the act, which was later dropped due to insufficient evidence, but the bar was ordered to close for three days by the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Problems had started early in the 11-year tenure of Mr Deason, with an opening special in 1998 which offered beer for 5c a can.

The pub was closed for a further two days in February 2008 after being found with intoxicated patrons on its premises, including one found slumped forward with a pool of vomit around his feet.

In 2004, the bar was criticised for its Wife Beater Wednesday promotion, the marketing manager who came up with the idea being later sacked.

The most recent headache for Mr Deason was a reduction in opening hours to 1am due to noise affecting patients at Dunedin Hospital.

About $60,000 worth of alterations would have been required to soundproof the building and obtain a late licence, something the property owner refused to assist hotel owner RoseHill Properties Ltd with.

The 131-year-old hotel was established by Edward Holmes, who was the licensee for three years. Many Dunedin people remember the hotel as Zouga Ballantynes family restaurant in the 1980s.

There would be an auction of the lessee and vendors chattels on March 24, Mr Mackay said.

What Otago Uni stands for

Contrary to popular belief, studying at the University of Otago is about graduating with a degree from a leading University. A degree that will open doors for them anywhere in the world. The students who think that partying, couch burning and beer swilling are the most desirable attributes of being at Otago are the students who are best suited to some other area of endeavour. Perhaps when they grow up they might realise that their degree actually has some mana associated with it and become members of a proud alumni. And hopefully be embarrassed to admit all they thought University was about was partying.

The decline of the Dunedin Student Pub

I can not believe that the Bowler is going to be no more. Fair enough that the University needs to expand and hospital patients are being disturbed, but to destroy an iconic symbol of what it is to be a student in Dunedin is truly heart-wrenching. Future students of the fine establishment that is Otago University will lose what it is to really be a part of Otago student life.
I can definitely see more students packing into the Octagon now, whereas it used to be more of the older students and Dunedin locals. I rue the day that Gardies and the Cook are no more, you can leave those pubs exactly the way they are!

Yeah, go buy the

Yeah, go buy the "Cook" and every other student watering hole in the city, then the Dunedin hospital patients and any other resident won't have to worry about noise and rowdy students. In fact keep going on like this and eventually the students which make up a high percentage of the Dunedin population, will stay away from the university cos everything that studying in Dunedin stands for will no longer be there and the university will be left with plenty of space for research. Perhaps research into the demise of the Otago rugby team would be a good start.

Buy the Cook

Excellent news the University of Otago has bought the Bowler, another 'derelict' student watering hole off the map and converting to university office accommodation. Superb for the area, and the occupiers of hospital rooms that in previous years had to put up with the former tavern's noise and late night patrons' poor behaviour. It was a pleasure to see the Bowler close, now a greater one to have this responsible property owner in the picture.
Please University of Otago, buy the Cook!!!