Stadium events incentive plan call

Dunedin city councillors have recommended the company that runs Forsyth Barr Stadium establish an events procurement strategy and investigate setting up an incentives fund for attracting events to the venue.

Increasing events and other usage was the main suggestion from respondents to a recent council survey on how to increase revenue from the stadium and cut costs and how the community could make the most of the venue.

After considering what Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) was already doing in response to many of the public's suggestions, a council subcommittee of Mayor Dave Cull and councillors Syd Brown, Kate Wilson, Chris Staynes and Lee Vandervis yesterday made five further recommendations to DVML and its parent company, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL), based on the public feedback.

The subcommittee recommended they be part of the companies' review of the community use and affordability of the stadium.

Asked about whether an events incentive fund was needed, DVML chief executive Darren Burden said a roofed stadium was attractive to promoters, but it was not enough for them.

There was a perception the promoter did not carry any risk, but quite often they put up the money themselves, so took a huge risk on an event, he said.

It was difficult to say what would clinch an event, as each promoter sought different things.

Promoters of sports events, for example, were interested in how much cash was in it for them from the venue, while others might want assistance with logistics, such as transport, or guarantees about ticket sales or media coverage.

Other promoters wanted to take more of the profits themselves.

"[At the moment] when it comes to getting them here, we come with nothing. The only leverage we have is to cut a significant discount offer in terms of venue hires, and that cuts out our revenue."

Mr Cull said a Melbourne event marketer recently told him local government there put millions of dollars into an event incentive fund, even though Melbourne had many great venues.

"It just shows we can't take [events] for granted, because we have a great venue."

Cr Brown said if events like the Elton John concert injected $14 million into the local economy, perhaps commercial as well as community contributions should be made to an incentive fund.

Cr Wilson said the sound issues with non-concert events needed to be sorted out, as well as those around major events.

A smartphone application, for example, with which people could connect to the stadium's sound system, would mean people could better hear commentary at sports events or events such as the recent rodeo, at which the sound quality was reportedly poor.

It could also be another way of increasing the revenue of the stadium, she said.

With regards to a special lottery, Cr Vandervis, who made a similar suggestion in 2010, said the idea was worth looking into.

"We need some kind of funding line where we are going to be able to get money from outside Dunedin."

One of the main issue would be getting lottery status for it.

"Whether it's a flyer depends on a lot of things, enthusiasm probably being the key thing."

He could think of plenty of things that would make great prizes, including Carisbrook seats and other memorabilia and signed All Black clothing, although he conceded it might be a bit late to set up a stadium lottery of the kind he had initially proposed because most of the Carisbrook chattels he proposed as prizes had since been disposed of.

"Some updated concept will hopefully still be investigated."

The subcommittee adjourned before considering other ideas suggested by the public, including grazing sheep in the stadium and using if for growing cannabis - although DVML has already told councillors it is "not sure this would be sanctioned and the power bill would be too high".

The subcommittee will also consider whether community events should be subsidised by commercial events or a ratepayer fund or subsidy. 

The five suggestions to DVML

Dunedin City Council subcommittee recommends Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and Dunedin City Holdings Ltd:

• Establish an event procurement strategy.
Investigate an events incentive fund and how it might be funded.
Investigate improving stadium sound for concert and non-concert events.
Keep up with artificial turf technology and be ready to make changes.
Investigate a stadium lottery.


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