23 Jan 2013

Dunedin 'wrong' to drop World Cup bid

5:42 pm on 23 January 2013

A National Party MP says the Dunedin City Council is wrong to turn its back on an international football tournament.

Visiting officials from the sport's ruling body FIFA and the local organising committee for the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015 have asked the council to reconsider bidding for matches at the South Island city's covered stadium.

The council dropped its bid for the final after deciding that the $1 million cost would not provide enough economic benefit to the city.

National's Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse says even hosting some pool matches would draw thousands of overseas visitors in the future.

Mr Woodhouse says Christchurch has estimated a $400,000 investment in hosting pool matches could yield 7000 visitor nights and $4 million for the local economy - and it would be the same for Dunedin.

"I think Dunedin can expect that and I just cannot believe this city is not pursuing this more vigourously."

The council said on Wednesday it is willing to host international matches - if the costs can be lowered. Mayor Dave Cull insists they are still trying to reach a deal with FIFA and the local organising committee.

"Although we couldn't make the original figures and projections stack up and justify the investment that would've been required, I said to FIFA we know we've got the best venue in the southern hemisphere.

"They came here uninvited to have a look at it - that's hardly surprising - and we told them that we'd be delighted if we could all find a way for them to utilise it."

Dave Cull says he is surprised by Mr Woodhouse's comments, because his government has been putting pressure on councils to stick to essential spending.

Mr Woodhouse says government reforms on councils still allow this sort of spending.