Stadium row linked to likely mayoral bid, says former mayor

What are your views on the multi-use arena, and Phil Mauger’s likely bid for mayor? Email bea...
What are your views on the multi-use arena, and Phil Mauger’s likely bid for mayor? Email bea.gooding@starmedia.kiwi. Keep emails to 200 words or less.
Christchurch city councillor Phil Mauger appears close to confirming he will run for mayor.

Mauger has fended off questions from The Star, only saying he “was definitely still considering it”.

“I’m definitely still considering it, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. I’m just doing a bit of homework. I’ll make my mind up one way or another before Christmas or in the next couple of months,” he said.

But sources say Mauger’s announcement is imminent and the political jostling in recent weeks over the seating capacity at the multi-use arena will be one of the platforms for his campaign.

Garry Moore.
Garry Moore.
Former mayor Garry Moore said yesterday he also had heard Mauger would run for mayor in next year’s local body elections.

The race will be wide open after Lianne Dalziel said she would not seek a fourth term.

"Absolutely ... it’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s about next year’s mayoral campaign,"  Moore said of the controversy over the Canterbury multi-use arena.

"You’ll see more and more of this - you’ll see issues raised to raise profiles."

The city council voted in favour of downsizing the stadium’s capacity from 30,000 seats to a minimum of 25,000 last month to bring the $473 million project back within the budget.

However, a new report shows a 30,000-seat stadium in Christchurch would cost about $21 million less than city councillors were told two weeks ago. 

The report, which was released on Wednesday, stated the cost to add the additional seats was likely to be about $70 million, not $88 million.

Phil Mauger.
Phil Mauger.
Mauger, and city councillors James Gough, Sam MacDonald, Aaron Keown and Catherine Chu all voted against the decision to downsize the stadium, and have since said they will try to have the decision overturned.

The controversial verdict was followed by a more than 20,000-signature petition, demanding the city council to overturn the decision. This and the new cost estimate could lead to another vote on the size.

Concerns have been raised that a 25,000-seat stadium will be unable to accommodate major events, such as All Blacks matches and large concerts.

Moore hoped their bid to overturn the decision would backfire the same way the Jade Stadium upgrades faced public backlash in the years before the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

"I just think that these five councillors are pushing this for political gain and to pander to a section of our community who are obsessed with rugby.

"There are more important things for them to focus on."

Mauger did not respond to Moore’s comments.

But last week he told The Star the city council needed to honour what it had promised Cantabrians, especially when competing with the Dunedin stadium to secure future All Blacks matches.

"We promised people 30,000 seats and we should give them what they wanted," he said.

"What’s an extra little bit now to make the thing really good?

"People are moving into Christchurch from Australia; they’re moving down from Auckland - you get one shot at getting it right."

Moore also believes the “political campaign” was being orchestrated by New Zealand Rugby due to its commercial interest in the project.

He questions how long rugby is going to be a driver of a stadium and whether this is what Cantabrians truly want.

NZR has not responded to Moore’s comments.

"It’s a luxury product of the city that shouldn’t be driven by self-interested groups like the rugby union,” Moore said.

"Most people in Christchurch want roads fixed, rubbish picked up or are fighting to keep our water [in the city]. A lot of people couldn’t even afford to go to a test if we had one.”

As the fight continues to retain the stadium’s original design, Moore believed it was going to become a political battle between the left and the right within the city council.

"It always has and always will be."

- Additional reporting by Chris Barclay

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