Octagon fan zone dropped

Dunedin's world cup fan zone might be shifted to the Forsyth Barr Stadium after the Dunedin City Council decided not to have it in the Octagon.

Councillors yesterday dropped the $300,000 plan for a sanctioned central-city fan zone in favour of what they hope will be a cheaper option at the new stadium.

They also kicked to touch a $30,000 plan to beautify high-profile areas and a $20,000 plan to offer free public transport to ticket-holders on game days.

On the fan zone, Mayor Dave Cull reminded councillors Dunedin had previously committed itself to an open-ended contract to host matches that looked likely to cost the city money.

The city had dipped into its pocket - and accepted new debt - to build the stadium, only to find it could not make additional revenue to help its books.

The Octagon fan zone would cost $300,000, but the prospect of holding something at the stadium which could cost less was worth considering.

Councillors asked staff to explore, with Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, the options for holding big-screen events for the semifinals and final.

They also wanted to know the revenue the events could generate, with deputy mayor Chris Staynes hoping it would be enough to reduce costs and make a free event viable.

Estimates presented to councillors yesterday suggested it could cost about $74,000 to stage a single, free event featuring live entertainment and the rugby on a big screen.

That did not include the cost of hiring the stadium - DVML was likely to offer it rent-free - and did not include the cost of showing the game.

Marketing and communication team leader Debra Simes said an accredited fan zone could show the game live without paying a broadcast fee.

A venue that was not accredited would have to pay for broadcast rights, even if it simply showed delayed coverage on free-to-air television.

Forsyth Barr Stadium was not an accredited fan zone - yet - but there were obvious opportunities for it to sell food and beverages to recoup costs.

The prospect of unrecoverable costs saw councillors abandon the Octagon fan zone for locally-focused entertainment paid from an existing $10,000 budget.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the city was already subsidising the $400,000 loss DVML would make from hosting three pool matches and the $300,000 could not be justified.

Cr Andrew Noone said now was not a good time to spend money on an event in the Octagon, where neighbouring cafe and bar owners had celebrations planned.

An Octagon bar owner contacted last night was disappointed with the decision.

"If it brings business into the middle of the city it can only be a good thing," Carousel owner John Devereux said.

"It's a big event. Shouldn't you have a focal point? People aren't going to sit around the stadium after the game's over."

Visiting rugby fans will have to pay to get around the city after councillors voted not to offer free bus rides for people with tickets to the rugby.

Instead, the council decided its staff should co-ordinate a public transport plan with event organisers, so that patrons could use a $2 bus or $5 train to and from the city centre.

A proposal to spend $50,000 beautifying sites around the city before the tournament was also abandoned. Staff were asked to report on how community groups might help get the job done.

The Dunedin City Council spent its second day discussing the pre-draft 2011-12 annual plan yesterday only to schedule another all-day session on January 31. Councillors are about halfway through the weighty document - and still at least a meeting away from knowing whether the 6.1% rates increase it proposes still stands.

In deliberations yesterday:
• The Rugby World Cup fan zone in Dunedin's Octagon was kicked to touch.
• Community groups will be asked to help clean Dunedin for the world cup.
• Council to promote low-cost public transport rather than offer free bus rides for world cup ticket holders
• Public will be consulted over new water council-controlled organisation.
• $200,000 Consumer Electricity fund retained.
• Heritage Fund doubled to its old, $80,000 level.
• Review of social housing budget in bid to cut rent increases.

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