Tough call for DCC on sports hall

The drive to keep the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame open in Dunedin has got bumpy.

Dunedin city councillors are due to consider options this week, but none look like a sure-fire way to develop and run an attractive facility in the city while keeping costs in check.

Councillors could delay confronting the big issues until March or April, as they await more information, but that would push decision time nearer to the possible closure of the hall in July.

The hall — housing exhibits such as gold medals won by Olympic athletes and memorabilia from New Zealand sporting heroes — has been at the Dunedin Railway Station since 1999.

It has functioned on a small budget, and a report commissioned by principal backer Sport New Zealand in 2019 found the status quo was not an option.

Sport NZ stopped providing its annual $100,000 grant from the end of last year and the city council stepped in with a $50,000 lifeline to keep the hall open in Dunedin until July 2021.

A report for city councillors outlines challenges longer term.

The council’s total support is already at about $77,000 a year, including a subsidised rental.

A basic refreshing of the hall’s permanent exhibition could cost about $650,000.

The New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

If the city council were to run the facility, a rates subsidy of $628,000 could be required, the report says.

That would include a marketing budget of $60,000 and employment of a manager, curator, administrator and visitor hosts.

One option is for the council to simply boost its operational grant to about $427,000.

However, this would leave the sports hall still needing to find money from other sources.

The council could persist with the status quo, but that would almost certainly result in the hall’s closure.

It could also actively encourage investigation of the possibility of moving the hall to Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The council considered locating the hall’s exhibits within the Toitu Otago Settlers’ Museum, but this would involve a dramatic cut in exhibition space.

Councillors have been provided with the report commissioned by Sport NZ, by Manuireva Consulting, which found it was not essential for the hall to stay in Dunedin, the status quo was not sustainable and operating as a stand-alone facility at a different site was not feasible.

The consultancy found closing the site at the railway station would be a constructive step towards developing a more sustainable and engaging hall of fame.

A follow-up report is due at the end of March, and city councillors may choose to wait to see what it says.

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame chairman Stuart McLauchlan said he was pleased dialogue was taking place and he was not giving up on Dunedin continuing to host the hall.

"We want to keep it in Dunedin," he said.

"We’re fighting tooth and nail for that."

A factor that could make further intervention difficult for the council is that councillors are already considering a large rates rise. Council debt is also set to soar in the next 10 years.

Cr Sophie Barker, who led the push to give the sports hall a lifeline, leaned towards waiting for more information before committing significantly more money.

She also noted the results were not yet in from a council-backed trial of train trips.

"We have to think about what will be the best mix of products for Dunedin."

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

Clearly people are not that interested. Stop throwing good money after bad, and let it close. If it was something people wanted, they'd pay to go and see it. Twenty-one years is quite a lot of evidence.

The commissioned report (that we have paid for) says it all. It's a great idea that's done its dash, and now it's time to move on. So now we've got another report on the go because vested interests didn't like what it said. Enough of the vanity projects! Focus on the core business of providing SERVICES to residents.

If it really must be retained in Dunedin, allocate space in the Taj Mahal new Sth Dunedin library.
Surely one curator can be hired for less than $700k per year.
Or just sell it to Christchurch for their new stadium, I'm sure the government will give them a couple of mill more to build a tin shed for it.

 

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