Surge in private funding for stadium

Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry is feeling buoyant after a $1.9 million surge in private sector funding for Otago Stadium in the past week.

Contracts for lounge memberships and other deals signed and returned in the past few days have boosted the trust's private funding total for the stadium project to $8.7 million, up from $6.8 million last Friday.

Mr Farry said the result followed a series of successful sales meetings in Dunedin during the past few days.

One gathering of friends had snapped up 22 lounge memberships - for $1500 plus GST a year each - following a meeting with trust staff on Tuesday, and 26 more were purchased in a similar fashion on Wednesday, he said.

Another $13.5 million was expected to be confirmed, through $4 million in "pending" membership products and corporate suites and $9.5 million in sponsorships in "advanced discussions", he said.

Once signed, the contracts would raise the private sector tally to $22.2 million, just $6 million short of the $28 million target the trust needed to reach by February.

Mr Farry yesterday credited the "huge response" to last week's rejig of lounge membership packages and the trust's public plea for more support.

"I think they have just realised how critical it is," he said. "It's the best week we have ever had, by far."

Last Friday, the trust had 50 days to sell 500 lounge memberships in order to reach its February private fundraising target of $28 million, which is 60% of the stadium's total required private sector contribution of $45.5 million.

Yesterday, Mr Farry said the trust now aimed to sell another 300 lounge memberships by the end of January.

Most of those purchasing lounge memberships were doing so in groups, or for businesses, and not one single individual membership was believed to have sold by itself, Mr Farry said.

The trust's office phones were still ringing yesterday, and he was aware of one group of up to 80 interested buyers still to sign.

The increase in sales comes after recent bad news, including doubts raised earlier this month about the Community Trust of Otago's hoped-for $10 million contribution, and early results from a survey last month indicating 73.3% of respondents did not support public funding of the project.

Asked how confident he was of reaching the trust's private sector goal by February, Mr Farry said he was still "taking each day as it comes" and was not prepared to offer odds.

"I have never used the word confident with this project, at any time. You jump a hurdle and the next one is right in front of you.

"We liken it to climbing Mount Everest . . .We are determined to get to the top in February," he said.


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