Survey shows big swing against stadium

An artist's impression of the stadium.
An artist's impression of the stadium.
Early results of a survey gauging support for public funding of the Otago Stadium indicate a major shift in public sentiment away from the project.

Of almost 1400 returns so far, preliminary analysis indicates 73.3% of respondents do not support public funding.

That is a major increase in opposition since a Dunedin City Council telephone survey of 2200 residents early last year showed 62.2% thought it should be built and 51.9% thought the council should help fund it.

That survey, and larger city and regional council mail-out surveys at the time that indicated closer to 40% were prepared to pay for the project, were heavily criticised by stadium opponents, who claimed they gave a skewed result.

The latest survey was sent to 5000 randomly-selected Dunedin homes earlier this month, after Otago University School of Business lecturer Dr John Williams and marketing department lecturer Dr Ben Wooliscroft heeded a call from Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler for a survey.

The pair put together a question they said would be based on "neutral" research, despite the parties involved being unable to agree on facts and figures to be included. The $7000 cost of the survey was raised by donations after both councils refused to fund it.

Asked by the Otago Daily Times for an update yesterday, Dr Williams said raw data showed 70% opposed the stadium. After the data was adjusted to deal with demographic irregularities, adjustments based on information in the last census, that figure increased to 73.3%.

Dr Williams emphasised the results were preliminary, but he would be "very, very surprised" if they changed by more than 1% or 2%.

The results of this survey and the councils' mail-out surveys were comparable and he had no problems with their methodology.

Asked if he was surprised by the result, he said he was not, as it reflected both his "gut instinct" and conversations with colleagues.

Contacted yesterday, Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin said the council was still working to the conditions set in March that the Carisbrook Stadium Trust had to meet, which included funding and other goals.

The survey question was prefaced by the sentence "considering all that you know about the costs and benefits of the proposed stadium", and Mr Chin said he, and the public, would not know fully what those were until February, when they would be considered and a decision made.

"We haven't got all that information."

He agreed the global financial crisis may have changed people's views on the issue, but "if the council reacted that way on everything, where is any kind of future planning?"

Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler said she did not believe the results of the previous surveys. She believed a majority had always been opposed to the project. There probably had been an increase, though, because of the financial crisis.

"It's time the councils listened to the voice of the people, rather than pushing this unwanted stadium," she said.

Dr Williams said the survey had no deadline, but there were 1000 returns in the first week and 60 on the first day of the second week.

A preliminary report was expected before Christmas.



"Considering all that you know about the costs and benefits of the proposed stadium, please indicate whether you support it. The current proposal is to finance the stadium using money from both private investors (approximately 25%) and also public money (approximately 75%), mainly from rates gathered by the Dunedin City Council and the Otago Regional Council."

Respondents were asked to tick boxes marked "yes", "no" or "undecided" to the question: Do you support the proposal to finance the Otago Stadium using public money?

The rest of the survey asked for personal information, including whether respondents were ratepayers, their gender, age, employment, education and income.



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