Home game requirement in stadium hire agreement

Highlanders' "home" games outside the Otago-Southland region should be a thing of the past as the Otago Rugby Football Union is expected to ensure they are played at the Forsyth Barr Stadium once it is built.

That expectation is included in the venue hire agreement between the ORFU and the Dunedin City Council for the stadium, released recently to the Otago Daily Times.

The Highlanders played a "home" game in Palmerston North in March, the first time in New Zealand any Super 14 franchise had played a home game outside its district.

The agreement includes a clause making the ORFU responsible for ensuring all its home games for interprovincial, Super 14, club finals or any other competitions established are played at the stadium.

Council chief executive Jim Harland said the clause expressed an expectation the ORFU would build a home base at the stadium, and "sends a pretty clear signal" on the issue.

The agreement did not rule out games in Queenstown and Invercargill, as three Super 14 games over a two-year period could be played elsewhere in the region.

That provision would be reviewed annually.

ORFU chief executive Richard Reid said the clause was "fairly clear", though if there was interest in home games outside Dunedin before the stadium was built, that would be considered.

Another clause included that "the licensee would take all steps it could to ensure that it retained a management contract for the Highlanders franchise" or equivalent.

It would also use "its best endeavours" to ensure as many New Zealand Rugby Union fixtures as possible were played at the stadium.

The agreement was conditional on the two organisations entering into a separate agreement for the sale and purchase of Carisbrook, and would be void if that had not taken place.

Mr Harland said that clause was to ensure the ORFU was in a good financial position to ensure it could meet the conditions of the tenancy.

The Dunedin City Council bought Carisbrook for $7 million, after which the ORFU repaid a $2 million loan to the council.

The cost to the ORFU for hiring the stadium was one of eight clauses "blacked out" on the release given to the ODT, but the agreement, for 35 years, said the hire charges would be reviewed every five years.

Mr Harland said the hire charge was blacked out to ensure negotiations with any other tenants were not compromised.

Four clauses under the heading "ticket pricing" had been blacked out.

One that was not was a clause giving the council the right to impose a development levy on tickets, 100% of which it would keep, so long as it did not exceed 7.5% of the ticket price.

That money would be used for maintenance and upgrades, Mr Harland said.

All food and beverage catering would be provided by the council through the Dunedin Venues Management Ltd or its provider, and all revenue collected by it.

The ORFU would have the right to sell all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in public areas, and the council in areas used by corporate members.

The ORFU would also have the right to install a big screen for rugby, at its cost.

The agreement would be terminated if there was "a material breach", or if either party went into liquidation or was unable to pay its debts.



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