The search for pots of gold begins

Let the fundraising begin.

In the blue corner: the Carisbrook Stadium Trust chasing $45.5 million of private funding.

In the red corner: the Dunedin City Council's rates and funding working party chasing $20 million.

Working party chairman Richard Walls said yesterday he had every confidence his people knew where to find ‘‘the gold''.

Trust chairman Malcolm Farry believes, even in the face of a threatened world recession, the business community will take the long view and offer to help.

The council's commitment, and the building of the stadium, hinges on them being right.

Cr Walls said yesterday the working party would not have to ‘‘start from scratch''.

Much of the groundwork identifying where to seek funding had already been done by Cr Syd Brown and general manager finance and corporate support Athol Stephens.

‘‘Syd and Athol undertook a great deal of valuable ‘prospecting' last year on possible sources of outside funding and there is more than a glint of gold in the pans.''

Cr Walls preferred not to be specific about the sources, some of whom had asked not be identified.

Mr Stephens told Monday's meeting that seeking a grant from central government ‘‘doesn't get you anywhere''.

However, Cr Walls was more optimistic: ‘‘Governments have been known to change their minds. I mean, how many times have they changed their mind over Auckland [Eden Park].''

He believed councillors would not have committed to the stadium if they thought raising the $20 million was not possible.

Cr Brown also indicated the Government remained a possible funding source, but was unwilling to identify other potential sources he had contacted.

During funding approaches he had ‘‘never been shown the door''.

‘‘People would just say to us ‘Come back when you know what you are doing and then we are prepared to talk','' he said.

‘‘We've got a major target that we've set ourselves, but if we can't achieve it then I don't think the project deserves to go ahead.''

Mr Farry said yesterday he was uncertain about the effects of the looming ‘‘recession''.

‘‘Obviously, in more difficult times, people feel less confident about making decisions, but I think at the level we are talking to - of big corporates and small to medium corporates - they will take a much longer-term view.''

Mr Farry said during good times there were always bad times ‘‘on the horizon''.

The trust will take its stadium products - such as corporate boxes and lounge memberships - to the market for the first time on April 2 and 3 and at that stage the public would learn what was for sale and for how much.

The selling process will begin with a ‘‘launch'' to people with existing corporate boxes and be followed by ‘‘door knocking'' over the following 14 days.

‘‘The testing that has gone on would indicate that we won't have enough corporate boxes to meet the demand.''

The stadium has 18 corporate boxes, the number limited by the need to stay within the $188 million construction budget.

He did not believe the fund raising efforts of the trust and the committee would clash.

‘‘There are some financial-advisers suggesting that there is potential for more than the $45.5 million that we are targeting. I wouldn't want to hang my hat on the fact that we could raise another $20 million that we could hand over to the city council, but who knows what might come out of the support there is in the Otago-Southland region.''

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