What happens to our cathedrals, the large stadiums found in every major centre, if we lose faith?
### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 14/06/2014
What about the state of New Zealand stadiums?
By Matt Nippert
[Excerpts from a longer article…] The covered 31,000-seat Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, constructed in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, may be the newest major sporting facility in the country but has already proved the most controversial. The bulk of its $224 million construction cost came from Dunedin City Council, but ongoing costs to ratepayers have caused considerable angst. Ratepayers were forced into a $2.3m bailout in May, and are mulling whether a permanent annual subsidy will be required to keep it running.
Getting to grips with exactly how much stadiums cost is a tricky exercise. Construction has often been piecemeal, with grandstands redeveloped or rebuilt over time, blurring total capital expenditure. And determining operational costs – whether stadiums require ongoing contributions by ratepayers – is further complicated by many facilities being run from within city councils or by council-controlled organisations. This makes the extraction of a discrete set of accounts, most notably in Dunedin and Waikato, an impossibility.
Analysis of accounts for Wellington and Auckland, run by dedicated trusts and two of the most transparent stadiums, shows that break-even is realistically the best case.
At New Zealand Rugby headquarters, chief executive Steve Tew broadly agrees that the glory days [of attendance at games] are over. Viewers watching broadcasts of a game have supplanted punters going through stadium turnstiles.
But there is one niche where the faith of the rugby faithful remains strong: All Blacks tests. Hosting the national team is often the only time stadiums up and down the country reach capacity.
While great for New Zealand Rugby coffers, Massey University’s Sam Richardson says the All Blacks have warped stadium construction priorities. “It’s an absolutely huge detriment. If you’re building a stadium where the financial viability year to year relies on an All Blacks test, there’s no question New Zealand Rugby plays a massive part in whether these facilities are going to be used to their potential,” he says.
Canterbury University economist Eric Crampton says building capacity for a solitary annual All Black test is akin to “buying a six-bedroom house just in case both sets of grandparents come to visit at the same time”. Crampton says the proliferation of large loss-making stadiums, both in New Zealand and worldwide, has been mainly because of the economic equivalent of hustling. “Sporting teams have been able to convince councils all over the place – and have been able to play them off against each other by threatening to move – to build excessive stadiums.
“Fifa, like the International Olympic Committee, is widely regarded as corrupt. In that, it reflects our flawed species; while capable of fabulous feats, a dark side lurks.”
### ODT Online Sat, 14 Jun 2014
Editorial: Revelling in sport
OPINION As Dunedin and the South gear up for the excitement of tonight’s rugby test in the city, a sporting event in another league entirely kicked off yesterday.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr