New hotel ‘not off the table’: stadium CEO

"When we get an opportunity to host a show, it sells out. We have a history of doing that ......
"When we get an opportunity to host a show, it sells out. We have a history of doing that ... Nothing’s changed" - Terry Davies. Photo: Peter McIntosh
A hotel at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium is "still in play" for possible development and work on the project continues, the stadium’s chief executive says.

Dunedin Stadium Property Ltd pitched a plan in 2021 for a hotel and multistorey carpark, a sports bar overlooking the ground, commercial office space and revamping the stadium entrance.

There were talks with potential developers and, though this had yet to yield a result that could be discussed publicly, stadium chief executive Terry Davies said yesterday a hotel was "not off the table".

The stadium was working with an exclusive partner and confidentiality with this partner had been extended, he said.

The Otago Daily Times reported in September 2021 there had been robust interest from potential developers.

In November of that year, travel restrictions relating to Covid-19 were identified as a hindrance to progress.

There had since been talk of potential to create a theatre as part of the project.

Mr Davies said yesterday it was a large project, which required more work.

The stadium will host a Pink concert on Tuesday, expected to attract about 37,000 people, but the calendar ahead otherwise lacks firm bookings from international artists.

Mr Davies, who also heads up Dunedin Venues, said the market was a bit tight, but he was not concerned.

"We’re actually quite bullish on our short-to-mid-term position."

Tours often had a short lead-in time, so it was too soon to conclude next summer would lack events, he said.

"When we get an opportunity to host a show, it sells out. We have a history of doing that ... Nothing’s changed."

The Dunedin City Council provides Dunedin Venues with $400,000 a year, which is used for attracting major events.

The council also administers a separate, contestable fund for major community and premier events, and it has an annual budget of just over $500,000.

"All of these sorts of funds are part of our commitment to supporting a vibrant events environment in Dunedin that will continue to build a sense of community, enhance the city’s unique identity and add to its cultural wealth," a council spokesman said.

"It also aims to optimise the contribution of festivals and events to the city’s economic development."

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said the city was well served by the stadium.

"Our city — like our wonderful stadium — has a proven track record of attracting top international acts and sporting events, plus the crowds of fans that follow them," Mr Radich said.

"Whenever we host these events, the whole city gets a buzz and we all work together to deliver a fantastic event and an amazing city experience for all involved.

"You can expect to see that again next week, when Pink performs under the roof to another massive crowd, plus a major All Blacks’ game later this year."

Mr Radich said the stadium had been "wonderful for our city, and will continue to be".

City councillor Andrew Whiley said Mr Davies’ leadership and connections had put Dunedin on the events map.

"I believe we do need to increase our events marketing budget, but we can’t compete with the big dollars that Christchurch is spending on attracting events to their city," Cr Whiley said.

A stronger all-of-city marketing budget was needed but this was "an interesting debate in financially challenging times".

"The economics of building hotels is extremely challenging and I’m sure if the numbers work, then investors will build another hotel in the city," he added.

Cr Sophie Barker asked a question about the events plan at a council meeting on Tuesday, as the plan had expired last year.

"The answer to my question was that it’s due for work around May this year, so I look forward to that," she said.

"We need it to line up with funding to ensure that we’re investing sensibly and productively into this sector."

Cr Barker said events were vital, as they pumped excitement and visitor dollars into the city.