Stadium model contributors defend decisions

Those who contributed to Forsyth Barr Stadium's operating model have defended their decisions in the wake of an announcement it will be reviewed.

A review and rebuilding of the stadium's complex operating and financial model was under way, the result of the stadium being set to make another loss this year and a bigger one next year, Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said on Thursday.

Peter Chin, who was mayor during the planning and approval of the stadium, said commenting on decisions made between 2004 and 2010 now did not add any value to the discussion.

''The decisions made by the council, which I chaired, were made on the information available to them. Things always change.''

People might now say ''I told you so'', but the council did not have the benefit of hindsight and the stadium and other council projects helped keep an important workforce in the city at a time when there was very little other construction going on, he said.

The council chief executive during that period, Jim Harland, said councillors voted for the stadium to go ahead.

The operating model, based on best practice at the time and that of V Base in Christchurch and Westpac Stadium in Wellington, was peer-reviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, he said. Indicated revenue-source assumptions were at the ''upper end'' of what was likely to be derived, Mr Harland said.

''I recall writing a report with Athol Stephens [council chief financial officer at the time the operating model was designed] identifying the high risk of the revenue assumptions.''

It was one of the reasons stadium management were to report to the council rather than through a holding company, he said.

The funding model assumptions had also been tested in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

''Like all assumptions, the trading environment comes to pass or not.''

Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry was on leave and did not want to comment until he had been ''briefed'' on the review.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd board chairman Sir John Hansen said the review proved its managers' long-held belief the budgets set for it were ''very, very optimistic''.

Because of the rent set by the stadium's shareholders, it would always be ''very, very difficult, even in a good year'' to meet those targets, Sir John said.

''We are very, very supportive of the review.''

Two rugby tests being held at the stadium this year would mean it would come close to meeting its budget, but the following year ''was frankly very, very difficult''.

That year was Rugby World Cup year so there were no tests at the stadium.

Staff were seeking events or acts to fill the gap but nothing had been formally signed at this point, he said.

Mr Stephens could not be contacted for comment.


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