Council to retain building

The Dunedin City Council has moved to retain direct ownership of High Performance Sport New Zealand's Dunedin base.

The move would see the council retain ownership of the $5.1 million building at Forsyth Barr Stadium, together with the land it sat on, worth $1.71 million.

The council transferred the land to Dunedin Venues Ltd last year, and was to do the same with the building this month.

DVL was then to lease it to Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, which would, in turn, lease it to HPSNZ.

Councillors at yesterday's finance, strategy and development committee meeting voted to restore direct responsibility for both the building and land.

Final approval would be required at the full council meeting on August 6.

A report by council finance and resources general manager Athol Stephens said DVML had sought, but been unable to secure, a guaranteed rental from HPSNZ.

HPSNZ had signed a heads of agreement to use the building, and had paid $160,000 in rent since January, but had not signed a lease, the report said.

Yesterday, the Otago Daily Times reported HPSNZ acting business manager Raylene Bates had lost her job, her responsibilities transferred to other centres.

HPSNZ chief executive Alex Baumann said he wanted to ensure Dunedin remained a "vibrant" hub for HPSNZ, but Cr Paul Hudson, speaking at yesterday's meeting, worried more changes could follow.

"I just wonder if that's where it's going to stop, or what the intention is."

However, Mr Stephens' report said Mr Baumann had confirmed by email his willingness to sign a lease with the council, worth $320,000 a year.

In a complicated transfer, ownership of the land and building would be moved from DVL to the council, with the land subdivided off the stadium's title.

That meant the building - and its associated $3.6 million debt - would remain with the council, having never been transferred.

The land and its associated $1.71 million debt would again become the council's responsibility, but would be cost-neutral as stadium debt within DVL - a council-controlled organisation - declined by the same amount.

Councillors would decide on August 6 whether to repay the land debt by an increase of $160,000 in dividend payments from Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, which was to have gone to DVL.

Alternatively, councillors could use any end-of-year council surplus for a lump-sum payment, although doubts remained any would be realised.

The council could also recover $160,000 in rent already paid to DVML since January.

Councillors voted to proceed.

Cr Teresa Stevenson opposed the motion.


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