Editor pitches for rugby nursery

### ODT Online Sat, 4 Feb 2012
Editorial: Rugby and professionalism
The professional rugby era has not been kind to New Zealand. We have tried to box above our weight in the notoriously difficult business of professional sport, under the illusion that because we have the most prolific and successful player nursery in the world, professionalism was a natural progression. It hasn’t been, as is evident by news the Otago Rugby Football Union is the latest in a growing list of provincial unions in dire financial strife. All provincial unions are weighed down by debt, high player wage costs and a public bored by nine-month saturation coverage of our national game on television.
Read more

Who on earth wore the Editor’s hat to compose this last gasp?

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Economics, Geography, Hot air, Media, People, Politics, Project management, Sport, Stadiums

39 responses to “Editor pitches for rugby nursery

  1. Anonymous

    Poll: Is the ODT a…
    Rugby Magazine?

  2. Stakeholders and the professional rugby crowd have done exceptionally well. It is the ratepayers who got the bum deal. Locals might have been better informed but most were taken in by the pretty pictures in the ODT and that notorious campaign. National media seemed to have some clues though but little of it made headlines here.

    For example, a couple of extracts from “Dunedin demands big tests”, by Gregor Paul, August 13 2006, NZ Herald:

    ‘Farry said: “We will have a category A stadium. There would be no point in building a stadium of this nature and not being able to host the biggest games.’

    ‘The total cost has been estimated at between $150 million and $180m, with Farry believing that between $39m – $67m could be raised by selling 10-year seats and up to $30m raised by selling naming rights.’

    We know the result of two of those things. The other continues to avoid public scrutiny. So has Forsyth Barr paid the $30m?

    Were we duped.

    • Elizabeth

      From ODT Letters to the editor today (print and digital editions)…

      To correspondent
      Calvin Oaten: With such complicated financial matters we suggest you deal directly with the DCC.”

      [spot the deliberate side-step; six days a week the newspaper features a Business section yet the editor can’t deal with the proffered maths, the irony is monumental]

      However, ODT runs another letter from Calvin about stadium finances, under their heading “DCC responds to query over interest on stadium debt”. In reply, we find another of DCC’s Athol Stephens blinders, where he repeats “Final figures are not in yet.” and “The valuation is not relevant for calculating the cost of servicing the debt.” – as clear as MUD mixed with BS.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    Does anyone get the feeling that the ODT, by hanging its flag on the stadium, and by extension rugby, is now realising it may have backed the wrong horse? The DCC, owner of the stable, should have looked more deeply into the breeding of this nag. If it had done so, it would have found a serious genetic failing. Further inquiry into the credentials of the ‘huckster salesman’ Farry would have seen the ulterior motives. It really is too late, but there should have been an announcement saying “Hold all tickets there will be a stewards’ inquiry, and a vets report called for. Horse may have been given ‘milkshakes’. “

  4. Russell Garbutt

    The really interesting piece in this story is the little throwaway line about the rugby nursery.

    This is known by another name – call it The Centre of Excellence in Amateur Sport Ltd.

    Down at the old Art Gallery was the base for the Academy of Sport South Island – now taken over by SPARC and renamed the High Performance Centre or some other similar moniker. However, for years, the Centre of Excellence was carrying on business at the same address, and it came to my attention when I noticed that a pretty strange pokie fund had been donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to this limited liabiiity company as well as to the ORFU. Despite being on the Boards of both Sport Otago, and the Academy of Sport, I had no idea who this Centre was. I asked round, and was told that this was in fact the front for the rugby academy.

    I’m sure that others can delve into company records just as well as I did, and they will find some extraordinary commonalities as to who was running the Centre of Excellence and the rugby fraternity. Suffice to say that when I wrote to the Centre, I got back a long letter on plain paper from a well-known rugby administrator.

    I don’t actually believe that the High Performance Centre, the Centre of Excellence, and the ORFU/Highlanders could sustain a lot of scrutiny if asked to differentiate between genuine potential high performance athletes and budding rugby professionals. Just how much the City has got into bed with rugby has not yet been revealed and those that are in charge of the finances will do everything in their power to keep the details from public scrutiny.

    As I’ve said on many occasions, it is past time for this full, independent financial investigation into ALL of these entities that are chewing up our money. I have not seen any attempt to say why such an investigation would not be worthwhile, rather the tactic is to ignore any such suggestions. Maybe it needs a concerted effort that could be the Annual Plan hearings.

  5. Calvin Oaten

    Russell, do you remember where several months ago it was said that the SPARC building next to the stadium was costed at about $3.6 million? It was also said that SPARC was responsible for the servicing and paying down of that debt over a ten-year period. In the next breath it was disclosed that the DCC had resolved to make an annual grant to SPARC, a figure that fortuitously matching the debt servicing requirements. So, the short answer is that we ratepayers are in fact paying for that building as well. Worse, how many ‘plebs’ will have access and use of that building? The corruption is blatant.

  6. Hype O'Thermia

    The same amount? Quelle surprise.

  7. Anonymous

    Oh, look, another news tip for the ODT to follow up with its usual indepth enthusiasm for council affairs… NO! WAIT! THERE’S A SEAGULL POOPING ON A WINDOW SOMEWHERE IN DUNEDIN—-

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    Wait for the elderberry season, there’ll be birds pooping purple. Great for those colour photos. Stain removal dilemmas. Poll – should elderberry trees be permitted in built-up areas? It’s going to be WILD!

  9. Anonymous

    Actually on that topic, I was surprised to see two mature and delightful trees cut down and ripped out on Kaikorai Rd for a new car sales yard. Those trees must have been there for decades while a business might only be for a short time. Would have preferred if the new owner had taken some time to decide if the trees could have been pruned and of benefit to the business. Too late now though but surprised they could get away with it.

  10. Anonymous

    I believe the trunks of those ended up at the owner’s house in Green Island. Two big gum trees?

  11. Anonymous

    Since this paper has been chasing the stadium dragon since 2006, from time to time it is interesting to check on how this support has reflected in subscription numbers.

    Many costs have gone up and it is the whole of those changes which is causing such financial harm today. Nobody can now deny the stadium debt is also having a frightening flow-on effect here in Dunedin.

    Families are looking for ways to cut non-essential costs and reduce expenditure where possible – something this council fails at – and a newspaper and magazine is one of those.

    Whether $10, $20 or $30 per month, that extra bill is one more cost nobody wants.


    31-12-2009 40,555
    30-06-2010 40,448
    31-12-2010 39,097
    30-06-2011 39,081
    30-09-2011 38,757 (includes 1,129 free papers)

    (Consider that numbers usually go up a little in the first half as the paper desperately sells its wares to students at a reduced rate.)

    The Southland Times and The Press have often published stories which tend to be missed or belated in the Otago Daily Times.


    31-12-2009 28,635
    30-06-2010 28,690
    31-12-2010 28,066
    30-06-2011 27,987
    30-09-2011 28,019 (includes 1,077 free/requested papers)


    31-12-2009 83,005
    30-06-2010 83,024
    31-12-2010 81,017
    30-06-2011 80,506
    30-09-2011 79,501 (includes 1,559 free papers)

    • Elizabeth

      In the same time scale, increasing access to (free) online news will account for some reduction in paid newspaper subscriptions. More statistical data and analysis is required to determine effects on household budgets, including uptake of dial-up and broadband services across the demographics.

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    Anonymous, re the gum trees, there may have been good reason. Many gums shed branches up to wrist thickness unexpectedly, not infrequently.. One variety when mature is worse than that and drops huge branches, it’s quite dangerous.

  13. Anonymous

    I’m not sure if they were gum but were nice big leafy trees. Would have preferred pruning or removing one of the two. Not my call so I’ll go out on a limb and accept it as a practical reason for the business to have gone there. Interesting the owner might have made a ‘stumpery’ out of them. Reminds me of a recent Landscape Man episode.

  14. ### ch9.co.nz February 1, 2013 – 7:29pm
    Nightly interview: Kelvin Windsor
    Since the Carisbrook stadium became surplus to requirements in Dunedin, the Otago Rugby Supporters’ Club has been without a home. The club moved shortly after the stadium shut down, and has had only a temporary home since. The situation has been in the news this week, and supporters’ club chairman Kelvin Windsor is here to tell us why.

  15. Mike

    Problem of course is the ORFU – DVML’s contract gives them pourage rights, the supporter’s club can’t just rent a room and reopen their bar. DVML would have to renegoiate their deal with the ORFU.

  16. Russell Garbutt

    The arrogance and sense of entitlement of these rugby types is breathtaking. I’ve got an idea for them – start raising money now – something like $350m should do it, and they can buy the place outright from the DCC and have all the clubrooms they like. Be my guest, in fact, I insist!

  17. Peter

    Yes, Russell and Mike, once they start campaigning for increasing ticket prices to go to the games….. to really ‘support’ the game… we can then say they are ‘talking turkey’.
    I reckon their main ‘support’ would be leaning up against the bar.

  18. Rob Hamlin

    Perhaps DVML aren’t interested because it seems a waste to move them into FB Stadium and then move them back to their old (but upgraded) club rooms in Carisbrook (gratis) a few months down the track when pro-rugby moves back to its old ancestral home amid much further mawkish ratepayer funded ceremony. Presumably the representative sod (that’s the earthy and grassy one out of the pitch, not all the others) will be flown back from FB to Carisbrook again by helicopter.

    Carisbrook is still immaculate – 20+ months and counting after it was ‘retired’ at a cost of multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars to this community. There is no earthly reason why it should be so – Unless it has yet to see its last pro-rugby appearance……?

    • After which, Rob, does the fubar turn into a private upmarket tennis and badminton facility for rugby wives.

      • Before I’d seen the story about Otago rugby supporters on Channel 9, I wrote this comment to ODT Online on another thread, which was abridged (deletions shown in italics here, no names mentioned and still the chop):

        Submitted by ej kerr on Sat, 02/02/2013 – 8:48pm.
        I dislike lumping local rugby supporters into one basket that says pay up for the stadium (via higher ticket prices and private fundraising efforts), or else!

        Like all rugby supporters are responsible for the DCC’s decision to build the stadium? No, of course not. They represent a wide cross-section of society and can’t be held accountable for the actions of a few in positions of power who have seen through the project. The responsibility sits firmly on the shoulders of the city council, our politicians, and some bad-ass business people, some cutting their own cloth with the public dollar.

        The council acted against all available advice that questioned the proposed stadium’s viability – paid for and freely offered from national agencies and economists well able to back their professional positions on the matter.

        Thus the astronomical embarrassment of the debt-funded stadium (no private sector funding received, confirmed by PwC audit) and current loss-making operating conditions (alone costing close to $20 million per annum) – the dire effects, in combination with other capital projects running in parallel, all for lack of council diligence and prudent conservative money management as required by law.

        Unstoppable council spending, council’s exposure to a high degree of risk, the extortionate level of council debt, hinder opportunities for the local community to increase productivity as a long-term investment in its own potential.

        Last thing anyone wants to see is local people – rugby supporters or not – being continually gouged as the result of lousy, blind and offensive decisions by elected representatives and salaried staff.
        ODT Link

        Given the Supporters Club’s failing membership, they hardly represent all rugby supporters in the province. They admit to raising funds to support amateur and school-level rugby, fair enough. They should focus on that, and widening the reach of the sport which includes women, men and children. There’s no need for bar facilities, if you’re getting your message across for the wider good.

        The Supporters Club should read Richard Boock’s column in SST today, ‘Women’s sport too important to be written off’ (page B15, no weblink yet). Food for thought.

  19. Calvin Oaten

    Supporters Club? What are they actually supporting? Is it the professional Highlanders which is only a commercial arrangements of convenience, using playing skills dragged from all points of the compass? It is only here by accident, nothing to do with local folk. So why the bonhomie’ over that? No, it must be the native Otago ITM team. But that has nothing to do with DVML or the Stadium for that matter. That belongs in the respective rugby clubrooms. That is where the masses who stay away from the stadium in droves dwell. So, in a word, Supporters Club, put your thinking cap on and go away, far from the rate payers’ teat.

  20. Anonymous

    I suspect the real reason they are not inside the new stadium is because they wanted access for free. Dinosaurs.

  21. Peter

    Calvin. Maybe they need the room for another conference facility.You know how short we are for all those conferences coming to Dunedin, now and into the never never.

  22. Hype O'Thermia

    Couldn’t they hold meetings in the clubrooms of the various clubs they fund-raise for?

  23. Hype O'Thermia

    “Carisbrook is still immaculate ” (Rob Hamlin). Funny eh if it’s a building site, industrial zoned land being needed or some-such, wasn’t that the story?
    Stories, stories. Where’s a non-fiction writer when you need one?

    • Looks like the ‘truth about Carisbrook’ is on the table as an election issue. Who has the most credibility and the plain facts to detail for constituents why it is that ratepayers are footing the bill for keeping the ground pristine when it’s out of use and on the market? Who at council decides that expenditure and why?

  24. Anonymous

    I’m very much looking forward to the remaining Seven Stadium Councillors – including Dave Cull and his ‘make it work at any cost’ stakeholder puppets – letting the voters know they stand for the stadium and all that it represents. I want to see it in their electioneering material including media advertising. Anything short of that is a public deception and a further admission of their guilt.

  25. Anon1

    Perhaps the posters on this site would prefer Carisbrook had been left to ruin over the last 16 months; it would then complement the scrap yard next door as a picturesque introduction to Dunedin for visitors arriving via the motorway.

  26. Rob Hamlin

    Anon1 – yes, that is exactly what I would have liked to have seen, rather than spend hundreds of thousands needlessly? keeping it ‘rugby ready’.

    Even better would have been to flatten it immediately, thereby leaving a tidy and visible redevelopment site and increasing its value to a developer at least dollar for dollar in line with the cost of doing so – The realisable value would likely have increased even more, as demolition and clearance would have removed any risk of Carisbrook groupie rearguard ‘save our heritage stadium’ risk. In addition to finding and removing to alternative consecrated sites all these lost rugby worthies who are supposedly entombed under its turf.

    The additional risk of it acting as yet another bloodsucking ‘rugby ark’ would also have been entirely removed as a by-product of the act of demolition. As it is, the ‘House of Ratepayer Pain For No Particular Gain’ remains ready to go in this unfortunate role.

    I repeat there is no justification for keeping Carisbrook in its current state, other than an intent to use it again in the role for which it was built. What has been proferred to this point by those responsible for this situation in the way of justification is pure bullshit. If you want to keep the grass down on a building site, then the accepted approach is to plough it up and/or spray it with Roundup.

    The scrap yard next door has several things going for it relative to both our ‘pristine’ rugby venues. It provides a necessary and environmentally favourable service for which people are prepared to pay. In doing so pays its own bills, its own rates and it keeps people genuinely employed. Given this, I have no particular problem with its appearance.

  27. Anonymous

    That line of rusting scrap is picturesque but then it is a business and not funded by the public. If the business changed its name to include “rugby” then no doubt Dave Cull would be all over it with his stakeholder brush. It is an eyesore but still not as offensive as molars on a harbour. But I have wondered from time to time about the closeness of those scrapheaps, including the machinery booms used to move it, and the above (assuming unshielded) high voltage power lines and whether there was a risk of flash-over. At times last year those lines appeared to be mere metres from those peaks.

  28. Peter

    Yes, I too would prefer to see a ‘scorched earth’ policy for Carisbrook. Though supportive of most things done by the [NZHPT] I am not interested in seeing Carisbrook, or any part of it, retained as ‘heritage’. The Awatea St stadium promoters have abandoned the place, so why should we get all misty-eyed about it. (They called Carisbrook old and tired and past its use-by date.)
    The pathetic earth sod ceremony, via helicopter, from Carisbrook to the new stadium, was so full of hypocrisy, it made you sick. Sentimental clap trap.
    Aside from all that, we can’t afford to keep ‘dear old Carisbrook’.
    So, put me on the bulldozer for starters.

    {Let’s get it right. Registration of a historic place under the Historic Places Act (HPA) is a recognition only, it does not confer any protection. The council’s Dunedin City District Plan via Schedule 25.1 is the mechanism for protection. -Eds}

  29. Calvin Oaten

    The thought of destroying Carisbrook (before, or unless it is sold) scares the ‘bejeezus’ out of me. To me it is always the ‘fall back’ option if sense, or economic conditions, finally bring reality on the FB Stadium, and it is closed down. The one redeeming argument in its favour is that “our national sport rugby” needs an arena on which to perform. Retaining Carisbrook would make that decision so much easier. If it could be simply handed back to the ORFU and they be told to get on with it on their own. Told that no more will the DCC spend another cent on them. Without the Carisbrook option, I doubt that our city leaders would have either the ‘intestinal fortitude’, nor the ‘gonads’ to face up to making the right decision.

  30. Calvin Oaten

    Russell, scroll back on this thread to exactly 1 year ago on the 5th, and your prescient posting is there. So what now is different? A lot of very dirty ORFU water was about to be spilt, and a lot of dodgy covering up by Cull and his ABCs happened with the result that the ORFU was bailed out (by the ratepayers) avoiding liquidation, and still one year later nothing, but nothing, has been done to staunch the economic drain. Proof once and for all that Cull and co. had never any intention to seriously address that ‘cancer’ eating away at the economic heart of Dunedin. Why?? That indeed, is the ‘very very big’ question which the electors will need to weigh up come next October. Will they? Probably not.

    {Link added. -Eds}

  31. Rob Hamlin

    I would be happy to go with your logic Calvin if:

    a) I thought that there was any chance of the FB Stadium being closed or demolished if Carisbrook were to be recommissioned. I think that we all know that there is absolutely no chance that either of these things is going to happen to the FB Stadium, regardless of how abysmal its commercial outcomes or technical performance turns out to be. Only two of the current councillors are completely ‘clean’ with regards to any political commitment to this structure. Most are now hopelessly mired. The election is very unlikely to deliver a clean majority for what you wish.

    b) I thought that there was any chance that pro-rugby’s fingers can be kept out of the community till. What events over the last four years have convinced you that whatever position is taken by the DCC or promises made by pro-rugby with regard to these that this will ever happen? The same observations re Council voting numbers apply to this comment as to the one above.

    No. If it ceases to be a rugby stadium, the FB Stadium continues to mop up large amounts of ratepayer money. It would of course have to be further repackaged as a ‘community asset’ with a small number of high profile ‘pay (lots) per view’ entertainment events per year. Of course this may only be when it is not being reserved for the exclusive use of the various high performance sports programmes that now lurk, also at ratepayer expense, within the ‘Sportopolis’ complex that surrounds this structure. This could actually be most of the time – A bit like the bizarrely luxurious ‘public’ rugby changing rooms at Logan Park, refurbished a year or so ago with millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money, and that now spend most of their time locked and barred. A large group of large gentlemen wearing blue do seem to have a key to these – But they only seem to turn up irregularly.

    I believe that there is only one choice Calvin – Whether you as a ratepayer get to pay for one rugby stadium or two of them. Come to think of it the way things are looking I’m not sure that you’ve even got that choice. Look’s very like you’re getting two whether you like it or not. There may be a slim chance of avoiding this if the more vulnerable of the two arenas can be destroyed before it comes back to life, but its continuing ‘pristine’ (McPravda description) ratepayer funded state suggests that Carisbrook seems to have powerful protection, and even that window of opportunity may fast be disappearing.

    Come to think of it a bit more Calvin, you won’t have to pay for either of them. The DCC will sell the water assets to DCHL and book a massive profit. DCHL will borrow against this asset and reinvest the proceeds into more important economic impact generating assets such as the rebuild of Carisbrook, subsidising loss making mega-shows at the FB and the construction of further Sportopolis facilities. – So the DCC will end up better off, and so will you as a ratepayer – Except for the thumping water and sewage bills you will be copping by then. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Davonomics.

  32. Hype O'Thermia

    Can’t get blood out of a stone, Calvin, more to the point one can’t get intestinal fortitude out of a jelly baby. Gutless, spineless, and easily licked, that’s our “City Leaders” – who act as our string-pulling unelected leaders’ bitches, more shame to them.

  33. Calvin Oaten

    Oh dear, and here was me in my slightly (or more) demented state, thinking I had it ‘sussed’. But Rob’s analysis is probably the more likely. Not sure about the water and waste assets being the great saviour though, as if the prognosis about the general state of the system is even half correct, DCHL would need all the borrowings it can get to repair and maintain that which they would take over. No, the more I look at it, I think that Malcolm and his rugby cronies, together with the ‘sub cretan’ decisions of Harland, Chin, Cull et al, have just about nailed this fair city of ours into its coffin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s