Stadium extras to cost in millions

Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium will require a "seven-figure" funding boost to provide some of the basic requirements for the facility

But the man in charge of operating the stadium yesterday said there would be no calls on ratepayers for help.

Instead, Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) chief executive David Davies said he was confident he could "get it right" through negotiations with businesses that would win contracts for aspects of the operation, and through funding from trusts.

Mr Davies said there would be no funding bombshells for ratepayers.

"No, there won't be, but there will be people saying it's not what I thought I'd be getting for my money, unless we get some of these features.

"It will be bereft of the technology and comfort people expect to see."Mr Davies confirmed yesterday what peer reviewers reported in 2008, that aspects of the facility - kitchen fit-outs, turnstiles, scoreboards and replay screens - were "not in the base build", and he expected the final figure to pay for all he required would be a seven-figure sum.

Asked about the issue, Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry said last night he accepted any funding from trusts or other providers would mean other organisations could miss out.

That included the Otago Youth Wellness Trust, of which he was chairman.

"That's the way life is, I suppose," Mr Farry said.

In 2008, three peer reviews were ordered by the Dunedin City Council to give councillors an independent assessment of the trust's work.

One of those, by company Davis Langdon, said a kitchen fit-out, broadcasting facilities, electronic turnstiles, scoreboards and replay screens were "excluded" from the budget.

Another issue that emerged more recently was the possible use of GrassMaster, a plastic thread that could be inserted in the turf, around which the roots of natural grass would grow.

It would cost about $700,000, but would allow the stadium to be used for up to 90 games a year, rather than the 30-35 games grass alone could take.

Asked for an update on those issues, Mr Davies said the kitchen fit-out was "something on our hit list".

He said there was no detailed design for the kitchens, so DVML was putting the issue to the market, and seven companies had indicated interest in the contract or contracts.

That level of interest was "more than ever before", and a good result, he said.

He believed the contracts, when completed, would achieve both the desired level of customer expectation, and the economic returns forecast.

"What we're seeking to achieve is a level of service that will coax every last cent out of the customer, because the experience is a good one.

"We're dictating terms, not leaving it to the companies."

"The budget will never allow a Rolls-Royce. Anyone [who expected that] missed the cause and effect of the budget."

Mr Davies said broadcasting requirements would not require any outlay, as the base fitting-out for the stadium met broadcasters' requirements.

He did not expect turnstiles to be needed.

"The fashion in the past was solid turnstiles, but in new builds in Europe and North America, they are moving away from that to hand-held scanners.

Hand-held scanners were not part of the stadium budget, but something being negotiated as part of the ticketing deal, with the company contracted to provide the scanning equipment.

He said the base build did not include a scoreboard or replay screen, but DVML was negotiating with companies to establish a price, and looking for funding.

He was "pretty confident" of success.

"Perversely, it's easier to get funding for things like replay screens, compared to toilets."

Mr Davies was also confident he would get funding for GrassMaster, having "talked to a couple of trusts that have indicated they are interested in helping".

He had not given up on building more toilets in the west stand.

If punters bought a ticket for the west stand, they should have a toilet in the west stand, he said.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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