Government grant for stadium confirmed

A government contribution of $15 million for Dunedin's planned stadium firmed from an "underwrite" to a "grant" yesterday.

During a Dunedin City Council meeting, Mayor Peter Chin released a letter he had received from Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully, confirming the funding.

There has been some confusion about how and when the council could access the money.

But the letter confirmed "the Crown will provide a grant of $15 million (net) towards the construction of the Awatea St stadium, with an expectation that the stadium will be completed and available for the Rugby World Cup 2011".

Once the Government was informed of the council's decision on the stadium, officials from the Ministry of Economic Development would work with the mayor on arrangements for the grant.

Mr McCully commended the council and the Carisbrook Stadium Trust "on the effort and the commitment you have put in to creating a long-lasting legacy for the city of Dunedin".

Mr McCully said in a subsequent email the money would be available from July 1.

Delays to yesterday's extraordinary council meeting meant its scheduled infrastructure services committee was held over until today.

The committee meeting, which was scheduled for 2pm yesterday, was opened and immediately adjourned to allow councillors more time to resolve stadium deliberations.

The meeting would resume at noon today, with items on the agenda including a proposal for the $74.3 million stage two upgrade of Dunedin's Tahuna wastewater plant, Mr Chin confirmed.

What they said

• Cr Teresa Stevenson likened the stadium debate to a war, and said during a war people used "hard tactics", like Stop the Stadium's decision to take the council to court.

• Deputy mayor Syd Brown said building Moana Pool and shifting the art gallery from Logan Park to the Octagon had caused the same sort of debate as the stadium had, and nobody would want to turn back the clock on those issues.

• Cr Neil Collins said if the city did not support projects such as the stadium it was "buying into decline".

• Cr Michael Guest said he wished people opposed to the stadium would listen to the support for it by University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof David Skegg, one of Dunedin's leading academics.

• Cr Richard Walls said the stadium was affordable, and the city had got "a pretty good deal".

• Cr Andrew Noone said the stadium was "a fantastic project" that would set Dunedin apart from other centres.

• Cr Dave Cull said councillors had been in an "unseemly rush to push this [stadium] through" in the last month, with a $15 million "carrot" dangled by the Government but tied to the Rugby World Cup, and due process had been short-circuited as a result.

• Cr Chris Staynes said he believed the majority of people no longer supported the stadium, and the city was being placed in a difficult financial situation with the risk of lost opportunities for years to come.

• Cr Colin Weatherall compared the stadium with the Sydney Opera House, debate over which had prompted "absolute chaos" in Australia.The stadium project would prove to be the same, he predicted.

• Cr John Bezett said councillors had taken appropriate and "robust" legal advice, and he was "very confident" the stadium would succeed.

• Cr Bill Acklin said the stadium's construction alone would bring $150 million in economic stimulus to the city, which was "more than the public money going into the stadium".

• Cr Kate Wilson believed councillors had let the community down through the lack of consultation, but - while still opposed to the project - was encouraged by the improved guaranteed maximum price contract now before councillors.


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