Edgar family wants ‘dialogue’ about keeping sports hall in city

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
The Edgar family is calling for fresh discussions about short-term funding for the beleaguered New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and is shocked by the Dunedin City Council’s lack of communication.

Sir Eion Edgar bequeathed $500,000 to get the wheels moving on a hall revamp and to keep it in Dunedin, but son Jonty Edgar said this did not inspire the council to get in touch with his family before councillors decided not to express interest in hosting the hall any more, as well as choosing not to give the cash-strapped facility a $100,000 funding top-up.

The council’s decision-making is considered to have harmed Dunedin’s chances of keeping the hall and Mr Edgar found out from media reporting.

The hall has been at the Dunedin Railway Station since 1999, but it is no longer considered a suitable venue, Sport New Zealand suspended its $100,000 grant and the city council chose not to give the hall another lifeline to keep it open.

"If they had come to us and asked about funding in the short term, we would have been open to a discussion," Mr Edgar said.

"We would love to reopen dialogue about how we can make this work.

"Let’s focus on trying to get Dunedin back in the picture."

Sir Eion, who died in June, made a late change in his will to pledge $250,000 for capital development and $250,000 for exhibition redevelopment at a facility he envisaged would be at the Edgar Centre indoor sports complex in Dunedin.

Investment firm Forsyth Barr, of which he had been chairman, added $200,000 to the cause.

Mr Edgar said the hall of fame was a big focus for his father before he died.

Sir Eion had a lot of respect for hall of fame chairman Stuart McLauchlan and had conversations with sports graphics entrepreneur Sir Ian Taylor about what could be part of a national attraction in Dunedin.

Sir Ian was amazed the council "never bothered" to talk to him, either.

Furious on Wednesday about what he called the short-sightedness of some councillors, Sir Ian wrote to the Otago Daily Times yesterday after learning more about the situation.

Sir Ian said he was stunned Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins could not justify spending $100,000 to keep the museum open for another year, "to give us time to see what we could do to resurrect it with funding set aside by Sir Eion Edgar".

"This from a mayor who was happy to spend $40,000 painting coloured dots down our main street or who was happy to close off the main roads leading to the Octagon to see if more people might walk down it."

The George St works initially had a budget for $40,000, but the project was subsidised by the NZ Transport Agency up to 90% and cost the council about $2500.

The Edgar family’s representative on the Dunedin Indoor Sports Venue Trust Board, Alan McKenzie, said he was part of two informal discussions with council staff.

He indicated some surprise about the flavour of their report that went before councillors after the board had contributed information and perspectives.

Mr Edgar saw parallels between the hall of fame and the battle to get Forsyth Barr Stadium built.

"I’m so glad we had the vision then to push on."

The hall of fame ran a process calling for expressions of interest from potential partners and Mr McLauchlan was disappointed the city council opted out.

Four complying bids had been received and they would be assessed from next week.



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The same councillors who sought to shut down the Taieri train. Remember its Benson-pope, Walker, Geary, Staynes, Houlihan and Hawkins who voted against this. Assuming we have STV next election give these ones the least preferred votes and the populate the most preferred as you wish. Time to vote them out.

Not if you agree with them. I would vote them in.

I was astonished to hear what the council had done ... Sir Eion gave so much to this city, his family must be feeling like they've had a kick in the guts.

The only thing that this decision will accomplish, will be to turn other Dunedin or Otago identities like Sir Ian Taylor and others from ever leaving anything to the city that would need any council approval.

To be fair to all that are involved in Dunedins smaller heritage collections should be at the table.
Having a dialogue is only sound when all can find common ground, all get a say, not just one collection taking the high ground for resourses.

So why wasn't Edgar and Taylor talking to the Hall of Fame people directly and giving them some money to tidy them over? Why did they need communication from the council? It's not a council activity (and shouldn't be in my opinion).

To say the venue has become no longer suitable is an understatement, it was never suitable, but the council has propped the venture up for years through subsidised rent

Definately remember these councilors next election, it was a good decision by council.

as if these sports fanatics dont have enough sports outlets. as a ratepayer i do not want anymore money going to sports activities. these people need to go partner with a beer company if they want their luxury organisation to continue.

Good decision councillors. This could be a private initiative. I for one have never been there and never would. Same goes for the stadium which I will pay for all my life.

This is a shocking decision by the DCC. The meeting should not have been conducted behind closed doors. The SHofF is an asset we should all be proud of. To refuse to lend any support after Eion Edgar bequeathed money in his will is absurd. Dunedin is supposed to be a city that values heritage and history and I can't think of a better example than NZs proud sporting heritage.

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