Hotel and car park vision for Dunedin stadium

A hotel could be built at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium as part of an ambitious development taking the South Island’s premier stadium to another level.

A multistorey car park, a sports bar overlooking the ground, commercial office space and revamping the stadium entrance are other key elements of the proposal.

The plan has been pitched by Dunedin Stadium Property Ltd, which owns Forsyth Barr Stadium, and it is now up to developers to present their ideas about how they can foresee realising that vision.

Land at the site could be either sold or leased to project developers.

The internationally branded hotel would be built "as a high priority, as soon as is practically possible", an information memorandum about the proposal says.

There would be no cost to ratepayers from the development, which would be worth tens of millions of dollars.

Hotel proposals in Dunedin have sometimes foundered, including a waterfront project that was scrapped in 2014 and failed bids in the central city.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said other proposals had come to fruition and the city council supported looking into whether there was commercial interest in developments at the stadium.

The memorandum highlighted events at the stadium were a major driver for commercial accommodation across the city, but frequent shortages during big events had forced attendees to "travel as far as Queenstown to find overnight accommodation".

"There’s certainly pressure on accommodation when there are major events on," Mr Hawkins said.

It would be positive for the stadium to have a hotel in the precinct.

Advantages of a similar concept were evident in Southampton, England, when New Zealand won the cricket world test championship in June, he said.

The final was shifted from London to the Rose Bowl in Southampton because the venue was more suitable amid Covid-19 restrictions.

Development of the hotel is expected to coincide with a rebound in tourism nationally and, as well as providing accommodation for people involved in events at the stadium, it could cater to visitors to the nearby University of Otago.

Expressions of interest for the stadium project close on August 31. Dunedin City Holdings Ltd chief executive Keith Cooper said project partners would have a better idea at that point about whether they were confident the dream could be realised.

Dunedin Stadium Property Ltd is part of the Dunedin City Council’s companies in the Dunedin City Holdings Ltd stable.

The project could cement Forsyth Barr Stadium as the premier stadium in the South Island, Mr Cooper said.

It would boost the covered stadium’s appeal for event promoters, strengthen conference capability and provide employment.

"These opportunities are at a very early stage.

There is significant work and due diligence to be undertaken and any transaction will be subject to Dunedin City Council’s approval as shareholder."

Project partners are keeping an open mind about the scale of both the hotel and car park.

It is envisaged the hotel, office space and sports bar would be on the northwestern part of the site, next to the Water of Leith.

The stadium entrance would be redeveloped and expanded.

A multilevel car park would be on the southeastern side and have access to Anzac Ave and Ravensbourne Rd.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive Terry Davies said the project would ensure Dunedin remained a preferred destination for major events coming to New Zealand.

An expanded range of products could be provided.

The ambitious project was announced shortly after the planned development of a covered stadium in Christchurch was scaled back.

Christchurch will press ahead with a stadium plan seating at least 25,000 people, after most city councillors there decided a trim was necessary because a 30,000-seat design could have put the project overbudget by up to $131.4 million.

Forsyth Barr Stadium can seat more than 30,000 people for sports fixtures and up to 39,000 for concerts.

The stadium is promoted in the documents as the best venue in the South for large-scale special events such as major expos and concerts.

Events hosted there had generated more than $300 million in visitor spending in the past nine years.

Stadium development

  • Internationally branded hotel
  • Multistorey car park
  • Expanded stadium front entrance
  • Sports bar
  • Commercial office space

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

 

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