Plaza plans a mystery

Just what will the Forsyth Barr Stadium's plaza look like?

That is a question the University of Otago is not ready to answer.

The Otago Daily Times contacted university property services director Barry MacKay this week, seeking an update on planning for the stadium plaza's final design.

The request came just over two months after Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive David Davies, in a briefing to city councillors, revealed the university was re-evaluating its plans for the plaza, aiming for a "superior" finish designed to "make a statement".

However, what that means remains a mystery, despite queries directed at Dunedin Venues Management (which manages Dunedin City Council venues) and university staff over several days.

Dunedin Venues Management staff referred queries about the design to the university, but Mr MacKay declined to be interviewed about progress.

He referred all questions to the university's communications staff, who in turn insisted on all questions being emailed, so they could seek Mr MacKay's comments themselves.

The one-paragraph response shed little light on the subject.

In it, Mr MacKay said only that the university's landscape and building project designers were working with stadium architects to provide final plans for the plaza development, which would meet the requirements of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, Dunedin Venue Management Ltd and the university.

"It is hoped these will be ready to be submitted for approval to the University Council within the next two months."

However, there was no response to questions about the reasons for the changes, what would feature, or who would pay for the increased cost.

The stadium complex - officially titled Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza - is largely publicly funded, with the Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council together contributing the bulk of funding.

In December, the university unveiled details of its planned building at the site, which would house academic and recreational services, form the stadium's western wall and open on to the plaza space.

The plaza would be owned in common by the city council and university.

In February, Mr Davies said the cost of the original plaza was covered by the stadium's construction budget, but not the cost of a design upgrade.

At the time, discussions between the university and council were continuing over who "foots the bill" for the additional cost, but it was his view the university would pay.

Dunedin Venue Management and council staff had been involved in the final design, and were awaiting sign-off by the University Council, a Venue Management spokeswoman said.

She also said the plaza was expected to be completed by August next year, in time for the Rugby World Cup, which begins in September.


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