Time to go, stadium head says

John Hansen.
John Hansen.
Changes to the way Forsyth Barr Stadium is run will allow it to push for bigger acts, the outgoing chairman of the company which runs the facility says.

Sir John Hansen announced publicly yesterday he was resigning as chairman of Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML), which runs the stadium, and Dunedin Venues Ltd, which owns the stadium.

The announcement comes after the Dunedin City Council supported recommendations in a stadium review, voting to grant another $1.81 million a year to the troubled venue.

Sir John, who will continue in the role until early next year, said he had told the council earlier this year he would resign after the stadium review was completed.

He told the Otago Daily Times DVML would be in a much better position once the review's recommendations were in place, making his successor's job easier.

''It gives it more scope to be flexible. It gives it more scope to take a little bit of risk.''

This potentially meant getting more acts, and while getting bands as big as the Rolling Stones was always a long shot, under the new system ''we could have a go for that size of act'', he said.

''It certainly leaves DVML in a place where it can succeed, whereas previously it was set up to fail.''

Asking DVML to pay $4 million rent each year was not sustainable and cutting that rent - potentially in half - meant it would no longer need to ''go back to the council all the time'' for funding.

''It's now recognised that was an unwise decision ... based on very optimistic forecasts.''

He was happy with what he had achieved since becoming chairman when both companies were formed in 2009.

The stadium and the acts, including Sir Elton John, Paul Simon and All Blacks tests, had ''brought a great deal to Dunedin''.

He was happy with the situation the company was in, but said some of the ''personalised criticism'' he had faced in the role had been ''a bit strange''.

''It's almost as if they think that we made the decision to build [the stadium], which of course we didn't.''

He felt his decision to leave was at the right time.

''Personally, I see the life of the director [or] CEO as five or six years in any event.''

He did not see it being a problem that two other directors of DVML had recently resigned.

''We have got two new directors to come on board and hopefully I'll be around for a couple of meetings to help bed them in.''

Starting on Monday, he would be chairing an independent panel to hear Christchurch's district plan, which he did not expect to be easy.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull congratulated Sir John for the work he had done in what were ''very challenging circumstances''.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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