DCC in stadium cost bid

A team of independent reviewers from PricewaterhouseCoopers will arrive in Dunedin next week seeking answers to multimillion-dollar questions concerning the final cost of the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday announced a $55,000 review of the stadium's final cost, amid concerns about "questions that remain unanswered", six months after the facility was built.

The review team would arrive in Dunedin from Auckland on Wednesday, and spend three weeks studying documents and interviewing "relevant parties", including the project delivery team, the University of Otago, Hawkins Construction, Dunedin Venues Ltd and Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, quantity surveyors and others.

Council chief executive Paul Orders said all parties had been told about the review, and he was expecting their co-operation.

The review team would complete a report to the council, which would consider the findings before deciding what to do next.

Mr Cull said yesterday he would not speculate on a final total.

"There is a series of indicative figures, but we're not comfortable with the certainty of those, or the clarity around them."

The figure included a budget of $165.4 million for construction costs.

Late last year, the stadium was given a valuation, based on replacement costs, of $225 million, and council finance and corporate support general manager Athol Stephens said then the valuation and the actual cost were going to end up "not too far apart".

There has been speculation the University of Otago and the council have been unable to come to an agreement over who pays for what at the plaza area of the stadium, where the university has buildings.

University chief executive John Patrick yesterday confirmed cost-sharing with the council over the plaza development remained an issue to be resolved.

Mr Cull, at yesterday's press conference, said the review had been prompted by a "lack of clarity and certainty around some figures".

"I want a final figure to put in the public arena."

Mr Cull said the questions were "what, who, how, when and why".

Asked about the guaranteed maximum price, he said he understood the issues were related to construction.

Responding to a question of whether criminal charges may follow, both men said there was no issue of that sort; rather, Mr Orders said, it was "about understanding the final quantum", and "explaining variances" that had arisen.

No-one was "under suspicion", they said.

"This needs to be put into perspective," Mr Orders said.

There needed to be a report that made clear the "end position" of the project.

"That has raised a number of questions that need to be answered," Mr Orders said.

The issue was about understanding the nature of any variances in the project's costs, he said.

The university "was a partner in this".

A "whole gamut" of parties would be interviewed, Mr Orders said.

The financial outcome of the matter for ratepayers is unknown.

However, the council minutes noted a resolution "a suitable rider be included in the draft long term plan advising the public of the effects of any overrun in Forsyth Barr Stadium costs in the 2011/12 year".





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