New figures raise stadium costs

Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo by ODT.
Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo by ODT.
New financial figures have pumped up the price of Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium to as high as $266 million.

The Dunedin City Council hopes the disclosure will help draw a line under the project and put an end to years of acrimony and finger-pointing.

The list released yesterday detailed $42 million in spending on projects considered fully or partially stadium-related, from the State Highway 88 realignment to the bail-out of the Otago Rugby Football Union.

However, council chief executive Paul Orders told the Otago Daily Times the public would have to decide what was fair to include in the final stadium bill.

He would not give his own preferred figure, but Mayor Dave Cull put his at $234 million.

That was based on including some costs as part of the stadium spend, such as the setup of Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and the ORFU bail-out, while excluding the cost of SH88.

Most of the information was already in the public domain, but it was the first time the costs had been collated and presented in one list.

Mr Cull hoped - but did not expect - it could draw a line under the lingering bitterness surrounding the stadium.

''You live in hope. It does provide an objective basis for people to no longer speculate or make accusations based on rumour. These are the figures.''

The list was the idea of council strategy and development general manager Sue Bidrose and its release was signalled earlier this year by Mr Orders.

Council financial planner Carolyn Howard spent three months, between other projects, collating the material.

The list included the $2.1 million cost of external advice and feasibility studies before the stadium's construction, and the $3.4 million cost of setting up Dunedin Venues Management Ltd.

The council's $3.4 million loss from the sale of Carisbrook also featured, as did a $700,000 ''nominal'' interest bill from a $2 million loan to the Otago Rugby Football Union.

The $27.2 million cost of the SH88 realignment also made the list, despite two-thirds of the money coming from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Another $1.7 million in surplus land costs was also added, as was the loss of several roads - considered assets worth $3.5 million to the council - when they became part of the stadium zone.

Dr Bidrose told the ODT the result was $42 million in extra costs, although some were more directly connected to the stadium than others.

The SH88 realignment, for example, had been planned anyway, but was brought forward - at additional cost - to complete it, together with the stadium, in time for the Rugby World Cup, she said.

The council's share of the realignment was $10 million, but staff could not say how much that might have changed if not for the stadium, she said.

The council considered any project with a possible connection to the stadium - and even consulted some of its most vociferous critics - before deciding what to include on the list.

There were other costs still to be faced, including those arising from the council's ongoing legal tussle with Dunedin businessman Doug Hall over SH88.

The council also faced $9.125 million in additional annual stadium-related costs, ranging from accelerated debt repayments, to extra DVML funding and a $400,000 events attraction fund.

Yesterday's release came after a PricewaterhouseCoopers review last year lifted the stadium's construction cost from $198 million to $224.4 million.

The early promised cost was no more than $188 million.

Mr Cull said yesterday that ''was clearly wrong'', while Mr Orders said the promise had been too simplistic.

''I have never bought the argument that you can just simplistically describe stadium costs with those sort of headlines.

''This is a complex project with both capital costs and ongoing operational costs.''

Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said the trust could not predict the cost escalations that came after the budget of $188 million was settled.

The escalations were the result of decisions made by the council and other parties, not the trust, he insisted.

''Things happened that were imposed upon us by the DCC. Had we been aware of those at the time, we would have included those in the figure.''

The trust was also not responsible for extra projects listed by the council yesterday, and the extra spending - paid for by the council and other parties, including private funds - was not part of the trust's expenditure, he said.


Stadium-related extras

External advice                    $2.1m

DVML setup costs                $3.4m

Carisbrook deal                   $3.4m

ORFU loan (nominal cost)    $700,000

State Highway 88               $27.2m*

Surplus land                        $1.7m

Local roads (lost assets)     $3.5m

TOTAL:                                 $42m

PWC's stadium cost:           $224.4m

If all extras included:          $266.4m

*NZTA ⅔ subsidy

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