The power of world class facilities

Much of the derision heaped on the stadium development has been down to the so called ‘build and they will come’ syndrome. This apparently is a bad thing, to build wonderful facilities and actively plan for events to be held there.

We have seen where this has been a huge success, possibly none more visible than the world class rowing facilities near Tiwzel in the Mackenzie Country.

Now comes the wonderful news that Invercargill has won the right to host the 2012 world junior track cycling championships at the ILT Velodrome track built in Invercargill in 2005. Sure there were nay-sayers when the Velodrome was being built (these people seem to pervade all cities in this country), but there was also a heck of a lot of support for the facility. This facility was built with locals in mind, however it was always the intention to get big international competitions to the Velodrome.

While there are those in the wider Dunedin community who heap scorn on the stadium, it has been mooted time and time again, yes indeed if you build it, they (NEW events) will come. Well of course they aren’t guaranteed to come, but holding the likes of FIFA’s U20 Football World Cup (the 3rd or 4th largest sporting event in the world depending on what sources you use) in NZ across the 4 major new stadia is a heck of a lot more realistic possibility than would be if we had Athletic Park, Lancaster Park, Eden Park and Carisbrook.

There are too many examples globally of this phenomenon occurring to name here, but we need not look any further than Invercargill’s wonderful facilities. No it’s not a done deal that these things will come to the country/city, but as proven by Velodrome, if you don’t have the facilities you most certainly can’t aim to host them (well not in the car park at the Southland District Council offices anyway).


Filed under Architecture, Economics, Stadiums

26 responses to “The power of world class facilities

  1. Phil

    Hats off to Invercargill, and to the national cycling body for pulling that event off. It’s quite a coup to pull such an event away from the cycling powerhouse parts of the world.

    Invercargill is on a win/win with that facility. Firstly, the 10 million dollars required was all independantly funded through grants and fundraising. So no public money was ever at risk. Even if nobody ever turned up to the venue. And secondly, it is a genuine community asset, able to be used every day by anyone who chooses. Like a swimming pool or public library. They were clever enough to include a number of netball and tennis courts in the centre of the velodrome and also offer the track itself to be used as a community health and fitness facility.

    A top example of a genuine multi purpose community asset. Well done to them.

    You know, if someone was clever enough to lay a training track around the perimeter of the indoor rugby field, that might be something I think I could use. In fact I might even have to fight to get space on a wet Dunedin lunch hour. I’d also consider it to be a community asset. Others might too.

  2. David

    Even if the stadium is an outrageous success, it doesn’t change the fact that spending $200m of public money and getting a return of 1/1000th is an unmitigated financial disaster for ratepayers.

    And if Carisbrook can host one of the world’s biggest events – the Rugby World cup – that proves they are ALREADY coming.

  3. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 23 Jun 2009
    Rugby: Henry embarrassed by crowd behaviour

    Coach Graham Henry reacted today to a spate of incidents during the just-completed two-test series against France which was marred by instances of crowd disruptions in Dunedin and Wellington. Henry has called for an improvement well before the 2011 rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
    Read more

  4. Graham Henry calling for an improvement in behaviour well before the RWC in New Zealand. Well, he would wouldn’t he. Question: does he mean the public or the team?

  5. Crowd behaviour irrelevant!

  6. “spending $200m of public money and getting a return of 1/1000th”

    You know this as a fact, you’ve seen the financial returns for the year 2011-2012 – cool, may I please borrow your crystal ball, I would dearly love to win part of lotto this weekend to pay for the alterations to my parents house – cheers.

    This goes to the heart of my argument.

    When they proposed this stadium, I bet 100% they did not financially calculate events like the Jr World Track cycling champs into the figures. They would have thought events like this possible and desirable, but they would not have calculated these into the projections. This is exactly the case here in Dunedin. Despite David claiming that it’s rugby only and that half dozen or so games of Rugby costing $123,456 per person per seat per event, the simple fact of the matter is that the CST has been exceedingly conservative with its financial projections. And with a brand new stadium, shown to be a success, who knows what events are likely to come, and these are EXTRA to the projections. Vector Arena in Auckland did not project or calculate into its projections the outrageous success that it has been, but that didn’t preclude it from becoming reality.

    Phil, they can put a running track in anything – anywhere. I watch the indoor athletics track meetings from Europe, and those tracks are small, tight and fun – way smaller than what have to offer. Like the mini winter Olympics we are about to host this year in Central (which no one forecast or projected until a bright spark came up with the idea), I’m guessing it is well within the realm of possibility of hosting a decent indoor athletics meet here.

    The difference between the public and private money you talk about in Invercargill, is scale. There are very very very very few examples globally and certainly not here in NZ of public money going into providing exclusive funding of the scale required. However there are multitude of examples locally and globally of small scale events centres being funded privately.

    If for one minute I would have thought that this project could be funded privately, but wasn’t, I too would be in the camp opposing it.

  7. Phil

    I have no doubt that they CAN build anything they want into the stadium. The question is more, why have they NOT? I’m not talking about a one off television spectacular for fitness elite of the world. I’m talking about including something, anything, that will go some way towards reassuring people that this can be viewed as a genuine community asset. That is where this project has fallen down big time. The majority of people see no benefits in their every day lives for the huge sums being expended. They feel distant and removed from the process. The very thing that has harnessed local support for such projects in Invercargill. If I feel so inclined I can hop down to the velodrome in Invercargill and burn off a few lunchtime calories on my Raleigh 20 while munching on a mutton pie. Now there’s a vision…

    Placing a permanent 2 lane jogging track directly in front of the seating will allow people to exercise during lunchtimes, pop along after work, feel safe under lights during winter and, most importantly, give people a feeling of ownership in the complex. Get them into the stadium every week for their own direct benefit, and they might just get used to coming along for viewing events. And spend their money. It could be something as simple as a 10% discount off a rugby ticket price for every 10 visits to the jogging track. A throw away incentive. The current philosophy is that people will simply start turning up to expensive events because it’s a new building.

    It’s a win/win. People come back to places they are used to going to. But you need to give them a selfish reason to go there in the first place.

    I’ve seen the indoor athletic stadiums in Europe. And they are in use daily, as community fitness facilities. People jogging in safety, companies holding their own inhouse Olympics. They are not facilities viewed by the community as only to be used by the elite few. Frankly, the majority of Europeans wouldn’t stand for that with public money. That’s what we need to fix here.

    A jogging track would sit in the areas most affected by shading, taking away the majority of the grass growth issues. And could easily be covered by artificial turf during a formal viewing event. Sitting outside of the playing strip it would have no effect at all on the prime activity for the stadium.

    I would also suggest that it’s something that could be funded directly from central government, as a community health initiative.

    I’ll repeat again that the new stadium, in its current format, offers no soul to the city. No daily benefit to the lives of the average person. And thus, limited support. The worst word (in my opinion) being rammed down people’s throats at the moment is “Events”. You pay, you turn up, you sit down, you watch, you go home. Maybe you have a good time, maybe you don’t. You really have limited input into the quality of your experience. Carisbrook was no different, which is why there were so many complaints about spending public money for upgrading some years back. If we’re going to spend 200 million of their money, give the community something more to do with it than eat their lunch.

    I wonder what the response from the community would have been if Council had said “we’re going to have to spend 50 million upgrading Carisbrook for rugby matches, BUT we’re going to include an all weather jogging track around the outside, with security lighting and fencing, drink machines, lockers, open 24 hours a day, for everyone in the city to use”. Damn thing would have been built by now. Instead, here we are.

  8. “I’ll repeat again that the new stadium, in its current format, offers no soul to the city.”

    I disagree, with the University buildings down there, the estimate is that 400,000 people will use the area yearly, that is day in day out all the time.

    I’ve seen some shocking ‘dead’ areas around stadia globally, and this is not going to be one of those.

    I struggle to find why you have difficulty with the word ‘Events’. Events in the all encompassing term includes everything from trade shows through to concerts. Each and every ‘event’ at the stadium will be different, asking for different levels of input from those who come along.

    Concerts, you’ll go along, rock along to music, more than likely dance or at the very least be entertained, and move on (more often than not, into the city for some more fun – or after party).

    If they are to go along and watch athletics events or whatever, then there is a level of sitting on one’s butt, but then that’s entertainment.

    Trade shows – that’s an event, people certainly don’t sit down passively for that at all.

    Putting an all weather track around the outside of this or the old stadium would have been an unmitigated disaster. The trend (and for good reason) with new stadiums is to bring the audience as close as possible to the entertainment. I’ve sat countless times at QEII park in CHCH watching football matches, and you are a mile away from the entertainment. The new Wembley stadium has done away with this altogether, the end result, with extra leg room for all of the patrons (the plebs now have as much leg room as Her Majesty used to command), even the people at the very top back of the new stadium are closer to the pitch than previously.

    Do not confuse this ENTERTAINMENT stadium with that of a public health camp. It was never intended to be, nor should it ever be so.

    “Frankly, the majority of Europeans wouldn’t stand for that with public money.” And yet they do. I agree though, there could be a way that the public access a running track inside the stadium from time to time on a semi-permanent basis, but it is first and foremost an entertainment stadium. We don’t let people in willy nilly into the town hall to bash their guitars just because some ‘elite’ artists do.

    I completely disagree that it offers no soul to the city, but then again it shouldn’t. It’s not a public square or Frank Kits park etc, it’s a sports and entertainment stadium. Yes the elite should be using this as their arena for battle or competition. It should also be THE large concert stadium in NZ, if you want to strum a few cords – do that at re-fuel or the like. People don’t expect to be able to walk off the street in NY and play around in Carnegie Hall, nor should they be allowed to. It’s the elite, it’s where legends come to play.

    BTW, what you are talking about is so called ‘public’ stadia, not the multitude of football and rugby stadiums which lay across the British Isles. I would never for one minute expect to bring my trainers along and run a few laps of Wembley, Goodison Park, Ibrox, Old Trafford or Anfield. I did have lunch in the café at St James park and felt privileged that I was allowed to do so – even blown away when Alan Shearer walked through the café. I did manage to con my way into Fenway Park after an American League playoff game once – I have no idea how. I walked around the place snapping as many pics as my camera battery would allow, taking in the legends and history of the place.

    “A sports stadium is essentially a huge theatre for the presentation of heroic feats.”
    {Geraint John, Rod Sheard and Ben Vickery – STADIA: A Design and Development Guide – 4th Edition. Architectural Press 2007}

    If you want a community Les Mills, campaign for that, but don’t expect U2, The All Blacks, The All Whites or the like to play in our city.

  9. Phil

    My point was simply that, given the extreme amount of local community funding that is commited to the project, there should be the opportunity for the community, as a whole, to make use of the facility as a genuine community asset. In some capacity. Which a large percentage of the community DON’T view it to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t have this controversy. I’m not saying let’s all be allowed to kick a football around the expensive playing turf. That’s not reasonable. But it doesn’t mean that other things that will help foster ownership by the community are unreasonable. There are some simple alternatives that offer maximum long term gain in gathering community involvement, for minimal short term cost. A little bit of lateral thinking doesn’t hurt. The report of the falling attendance numbers for sporting events suggests that it’s required. On a daily basis.

    If the City of Manchester was committing 90 odd percent of its available long term capital funding, and was also going to take more money from their ratepayers specifically for a new stadium for Manchester United then, yes, I would expect there to be something at Old Trafford for the community to benefit from on a daily basis. I realise that they also offer up other entertainment events at the stadium at various times outside of the football season but without the football team as the core user, they wouldn’t need the stadium. I believe that the same holds true for us also. We need to get people coming to the football games, and that means keeping the interest of a large proportion of our population on a continuous basis. Make it familiar, make it part of their lives and “they will come”.

  10. Phil

    thanks for the clarification, Elizabeth. I was thinking of a single lane for lunchtime jogging, or for elderly walking groups, with maybe a passing lane alongside for good measure. Probably needs to be no wider than 2m all up. I’m sure we’ll have that to spare between the sidelines and the grandstands.

  11. David

    Paul – even Jim Harland says the stadium’s income will primarily be from rugby.

    I can’t imagine them ever shifting a super 14 game because someone wants to hire it for soccer or a concert.

    If its income is primarily rugby, its use is primarily rugby, visitors overwhelmingly come to see rugby, and if it wouldn’t be built if it wasn’t for rugby, then it’s a rugby stadium.

    Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc etc (unless you change that too – then it must be an albatross/white elephant )

    Like Carisbrook rugby stadium, it may have the occasional use for something else, but it’s a rugby stadium.

  12. Phil

    Before I turn out the light, I’d like to briefly mention Wembley Stadium. Wembley is owned by the FA with the local authority contributing just 3% of the construction costs. Equating that to our project, the complex would be owned by the NZRFU, and the DCC/ORC would have contributed a combined total of 6 million dollars. I think a stadium can return a good profit to the community for a 6 mill stake. Without having to offer anything more. So I don’t expect to be allowed to set out a picnic in the goal mouth any time I like.

    I think that today there is a danger in speaking in hushed tones of legends, and heroic feats. The attitudes and behaviours of the players themselves in believing that they truly are legends, are largely to blame for the current apathy towards rugby in NZ. How many Highlanders are currently banned from Dunedin pubs? I’ve lost count. The days of people in awe of Pinetree Meads and his one handed ball carrying skills are gone. Modern teams need to bridge the gap between themselves and the public if they are to maintain the support they need. They have some serious rebuilding work to do there. Those who realise that first will be the ones who survive. Letting us share a little bit in the ground might be a start.

    One final thought, then it’s good night. “Entertainment”. To me that means something that amuses me or that I derive pleasure from. That might mean a Dame Elton concert to you, might mean underwater professional wrestling to Elizabeth, might mean going for a jog for me. The point being is that the concept is different for everyone, and no single interpretation should be regarded as being of any higher value than any other interpretation. If one is going to build an entertainment centre as a source of revenue, one should consider what the users will consider to be entertainment, not what the builder thinks. And try to accommodate as many interpretations as is reasonably possible.

    I’m going to think a bit harder about the underwater professional wrestling. The idea intrigues me.

  13. Jack

    Guy Hedderwick stated CST has (only) raised a total of $26,000,000.**

    Elizabeth you do realize that this is $26 million more than Westpac Stadium had raised at this point. They sold $0% of their seats 6 months prior to opening. I would say the fundraising is a real success so far. Perhaps you should research other stadiums and when the private money was raised, you might be surprised how well Dunedin are doing

  14. Phil

    Possibly because Wellington didn’t start selling ground memberships until after construction of the stadium had begun? That would put them a little further behind.

  15. David

    Jack – that is rubbish.

    FOUR years before opening, in 1995, the naming rights and most of the 69 corporate boxes were sold.

    TWO years before opening, in 1997, over 500 Westpac Stadium memberships were sold

    – for this PRIVATELY funded stadium.

    Two years earlier, in 1995, the naming rights were sold as were most of the corporate boxes.

  16. Phil

    Ooops, sorry, I forgot that the Wellington stadium had sold the 6 million dollar naming rights 3 years prior to construction. Which is included in the CST’s 26 mill. Around 10 million I think. Just to tidy things up.

  17. Phil

    But I will agree with you, Jack. Every bit of private funding helps at this stage.

  18. Phil

    Which reminds me of an article I read a couple of weeks back in which the NZFRU will require that all stadium naming rights be removed for the duration of the RWC.

    That would really piss me off if I’d just parted out with 6 million dollars and couldn’t advertise to a worldwide audience at the opening event.

    I wonder what it will be known as during RWC time? The “____ stadium” at University Plaza”? At least Wellington still has “cake tin” to fall back on.

  19. David

    For a name, how about

    Stadium That’s Under Funded at University Plaza ?

    or shortened to an acronym – STUF UP

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