You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The original vision to fund construction of Dunedin's covered stadium quickly became a flashpoint for ratepayer dissent, dividing communities and families as the costs rose and explanations became complex beyond belief.
For many, that dissent over the contentious project, long completed and opened in mid-2011, still rankles.
The report covers the subsequent dire financial impact on Aurora Energy and also the Dunedin City Council's sacking of the board of the Dunedin City Holdings Ltd.
Associate Prof Mike Sam, for Otago university's School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, has just published his study "Big Stadium, Small City: A Catalyst for Turbulence and Governance Reforms" in the journal Urban Policy and Research.
Prof Sam said the study focused on the decisions by local government officials in Dunedin to approve and finance the city's covered stadium.
The arrangements scrutinised particularly referred to "the outsourcing of advice, communication and fundraising to a charitable trust; the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, and the formation of council-owned companies into a complex financing apparatus to place liabilities off balance sheets and obfuscate costs," he said.
The "small city" definition was "key" to the study as the stadium cost $1540 for every urban resident, he said.
Had it proportionally been a city of 1 million people, it would have equated to $1.5billion in spending on a sport and entertainment facility, he said.
Prof Sam hopes the lessons learned from Dunedin's case would help inform other centres, such as Christchurch, that are looking at building new stadiums.
"Other small centres should take note of what happened in Dunedin, and pay particularly close attention to private-public partnerships and the outsourcing of key planning work to consultants."
Dunedin's stadium cost $224million, with $163 million coming from the Dunedin City Council, $38 million from the Otago Regional Council and $15 million from central government.
"Getting this approved was a difficult sell for the local government officials of the day.
"While the financial mechanisms were not corrupt, my research found the funding schemes effectively muted public opposition by way of being so complex and impenetrable," Prof Sam said.
He highlights that along with the general public, few of Dunedin's city councillors fully understood the relationships between the council-controlled trade organisations (CCTOs) and the city's finances.
One interview with the study revealed a DCC manager saying "there are only three or four of us who actually understand it," the study researchers were told.
"There was a city councillor supporting the stadium to go ahead who also sat on the boards of a number of council-owned companies through which stadium debt was spread.
"This prompted the eventual expelling of the councillor from his role as chairman of Dunedin City Holdings Limited, and a much-needed review of the policies around governance of council-owned companies," Prof Sam said.
A report released in August 2011 from independent reviewer Warren Larsen said there was a high level of dysfunction in the organisation and financial problems with the potential to become serious, the ODT reported at the time.
The issue came to a head in November that year when the Dunedin City Council sacked the entire board of the Dunedin City Holdings Ltd company, with two directors opting to resign, and brought in consultants to institute a major restructure of the council's group of companies.
Prof Sam said the council also had to change "the often brick-wall approach" to requests from opponents for access to information held by the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, which essentially built the business case for the stadium which was approved by the council.
The study outlined how, when responding to public opposition, the High Court could not make sense of the financing scheme either, ultimately agreeing with the council's lawyers that taxpayer contributions, and not the total debt, were the yardstick for evaluating the project.
"The consequences of this debt would include stadium bailouts, the deferment of community projects such as playgrounds and walkways, and selling-off of assets such as Citibus", he said.
One of the most high-profile consequences was council-owned utility company Aurora Energy being found negligent in upgrading its electricity network.
Prof Sam said it was a potentially dangerous result of what the company's chief executive at the time had explained came from the need to pay $30million towards the stadium.
He said the study ultimately showed public-private partnerships were not inherently good or cost-effective.
"They need citizen and local government literacy and oversight to make them so - small cities can learn from each other and perhaps be better at this than larger urban centres."
-The study began in 2006, when Carisbrook was still being considered for redevelopment, with several subsequent reports written by Prof Sam and associates.