Dunedin company Forsyth Barr puts name to stadium

The $188 million stadium in Dunedin, if it goes ahead, will be named Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza.

Principals of the Dunedin-based sharebroking and investment company yesterday signed a 10-year agreement with the Carisbrook Stadium Trust for the "head naming rights".

Neither party would say how much the deal was worth.

  • [comment caption=What do you think would be a good name for the new stadium?]

Forsyth Barr chairman Eion Edgar would say only that it was a "significant sum", but was "certainly not" what the trust would have liked "and probably more than we would have liked to pay".

While the suggested value of the naming rights has not previously been divulged publicly, in December 2007 trust marketing adviser Brian Meredith reported to the Dunedin City Council that head naming rights would equate to up to 22% of the $45.5 million required from private sector funding - a sum equivalent to just over $10 million.

After a signing ceremony for the media yesterday, managing director Neil Paviour-Smith, of Wellington, said the move would give the company profile, "putting our name on an asset that will have some prominence, not just in Dunedin, but throughout New Zealand".

The company was founded in Dunedin in 1936 and the opening of the stadium would coincide with the company's 75th anniversary, he said.

"It's an opportunity for us to express our confidence in the future and demonstrably through a very significant sponsorship such as this."

He had closely followed the development of Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

"In hindsight, the stadium has been a huge asset for Wellington."

He acknowledged there needed to be "robust" debate over the stadium.

"It is a big cost, but I think the way in which interest rates are moving, building costs are moving, in some ways possibly it's getting more affordable, perhaps, than where it was a few months ago," Mr Paviour-Smith said.

He also believed the stadium was "the kind of project" the country needed to help come through the economic crisis.

"I look forward to central government supporting the project through whatever means they can."

Mr Edgar said the stadium would be "an outstanding asset" for Otago and the country.

It would create jobs and put money into the community. This is the time when you need to build projects like this," Mr Edgar said.

Asked how the company's Dunedin clients who opposed the stadium might react, Mr Edgar said "there would always be some backlash".

He hoped those who were "nervous" would take a long-term view and recognise the implications of not going ahead with the stadium.

"The reality is, the city will decline so there will be less people to pay the rates, there will be less businesses and, therefore, for those who are left, the rates will go up.

"People forget about that. I believe ventures like this actually help people's rates."

Trust chairman Malcolm Farry described the naming rights agreement as "huge".

"It gives us a great deal of confidence to have a local corporate able to come in and support us on this.

"We are now even closer to starting construction this year."

The Community Trust of Otago is still considering a request for a $10 million contribution to the stadium.

Chairman Bill Thomson said yesterday the trust expected to make a decision in time for the crucial February 9 meeting of the city council and would make a public announcement after that.

Forsyth Barr
Head office: Dunedin.
Founded: 1936.
Managing director: Neil Paviour-Smith, Wellington.
Branches: 14.
Staff: 230, one-third in Dunedin.
Clients: 50,000.
Total funds under direct management: $2.5-$3 billion.

 

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