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The Dunedin City Council is defending the decision not to hold its own auction of Carisbrook fittings, to offset the multimillion-dollar loss for ratepayers from the old ground's sale.
It was reported yesterday Rotary clubs from Dunedin, Mosgiel and Milton had so far raised $200,000 by auctioning seats, boxes of turf and other fittings from the old ground.
The windfall was the result of a charitable gesture by Carisbrook's new owner, Calder Stewart, and it was hoped proceeds could eventually rise to between $250,000 and $1 million.
However, the clubs' success came just days after the council confirmed ratepayers had been left with a $3.4 million bill after selling the ground and surrounding properties.
Despite that, Mayor Dave Cull said yesterday he doubted the council could have reduced the size of the loss by organising its own auction of Carisbrook memorabilia.
That was because the council would be forced to pay workers to disassemble the site, unlike the Rotary clubs, which benefited from a small army of volunteers, he said.
As well, the council could not know - before agreeing to the sale to Calder Stewart - whether removing fittings from the old ground would lower the price any prospective buyer was prepared to pay, he said.
''It's quite possible a lot of it will be demolished, but before we had a buyer we didn't know what any buyer would want to do with the place.
''It probably wouldn't have been that bright to half wreck it and say `give us top dollar','' Mr Cull said.
Instead, it was a ''real positive'' the Rotary clubs had been able to get together and co-ordinate the auction to raise money, he said.
''I think it's great . . . I just don't think you could do it if you didn't do it for nothing.''
Council city property manager Robert Clark agreed, saying the idea of auctioning the fittings had been considered by council staff mulling over the Carisbrook sale process, but ruled out as unworkable.
The council had also considered demolishing the ground's grandstands, and later selling a cleared site, but that too had been ruled out, he said.
In both cases, that was because of the costs involved and because it was felt the site would be more appealing to prospective buyers as it was, he said.
''We did consider it and certainly looked at it . . . it was really up to the purchaser to maximise the value of the property themselves,'' he said.
Mr Clark could not say whether auctioning the fittings first would have lowered the price Calder Stewart was prepared to pay, ''but my view is they wanted the property as it was''.
''It was considered the best way to maximise the value was to sell it as a whole.''
Carisbrook Rotary Project committee member Lindsay Thorburn said up to 100 volunteers had been at the ground daily, stripping the seats and other fittings and - in some cases - using equipment borrowed at no cost.
He also doubted the council could turn a profit by doing the work itself, but said the money raised would be coming back to Dunedin anyway.
''Basically, you're getting it for nothing ... We'll be putting the money back into Dunedin. We'll probably use it better than they [council] would've.''
Exactly what the money would be used for was yet to be decided, but ideas included a ''Carisbrook Legacy'' fund to help buy, for example, new equipment for Dunedin Hospital, he said.
On Monday, he told the ODT the auction was going ''really well''.
''Every time I go on the internet, another 20-30 people have bought something. It's been a massive exercise. It's a boom for us.''