10 Feb 2009

Dunedin stadium plan could still fail, say mayor

5:40 pm on 10 February 2009

Dunedin's proposed multi-million-dollar stadium could still flounder, says Mayor Peter Chin.

On Monday night, the council voted 10 to five to continue with the $198 million Awatea Street stadium development.

The decision has angered some residents, who are planning a rates revolt.

The project is subject to conditions, including funding from Otago Regional Council, the Government and the private sector.

Mr Chin says there are also appeals against changes to the district plan allowing the stadium to go ahead.

Mr Chin says he is confident of receiving funding from the regional council, and hopeful of funding from the Government.

The plan is to replace Carisbrook with an enclosed multi-purpose stadium that promoters say could stage everything - from sports events to rock concerts.

In a closed door meeting, the council spent all Monday deciding whether to abandon the project, and voted 10-5 in favour of continuing.

The cost of the enclosed stadium is now $10 million more than when it was first mooted.

The project is already $7.7 million over budget. Dunedin City Council chief executive Jim Harland says the total shortfall could be as high as $35 million.

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday that the council should not rely on government funding and any contribution it may make will be "modest".

At the start of the meeting, Mr Chin excluded the public from discussions, which drew jeers from the public gallery of about 50 people, one of whom called the councillors "a bunch of poodles".

Rates protest planned, say opponents

Some Dunedin residents who are angry about the decision are planning a rates revolt.

Bev Butler, who heads the Stop the Stadium group, says the first phase already announced is for people to cancel their direct debit.

Ms Butler said the group will announced the second phase after the regional council's decision on Wednesday.

Carisbrook Stadium Trust chairman Malcolm Farry says the funding commitment from the council will inspire investor confidence in the project, and enable the trust to get better prices from contractors.

Mr Farry expects there will be a big upsurge in seat sales and sponsorship at the stadium.