Stadium #TotalFail

### ODT Online Fri, 14 Nov 2014
Opinion: Your say
Learning from stadium-related mistakes
By Rob Hamlin
One of the few good things about making mistakes is that you can learn from them, and avoid making the same kind of mistake again.
It is pretty clear that the FB Stadium has been a mistake on the part of the Councillors that voted for it. It has not come close to delivering the economic or social benefits that were predicted by its backers at the time. The figure arrived at in an earlier response to the above article [ODT Online] of $22 million loss per year, appears to be about right for this facility’s current annual cost to the community once all the cross-subsidies and clever fiscal two steps have been eliminated. On the social front, unlike the Moana Pool and Edgar Centre facilities that it is often compared with, the Stadium lies empty 95%+ of the time. Both these failures might just be forgiven if it was an attractive structure – but the Taj Mahal it ain’t.
Read more


Another oft-cited council asset…….

New Zealand Division II Swimming, 11 April 2012 Moana Pool | Swimming New Zealand

### ODT Online Sat, 15 Nov 2014
Party to mark long success of sporting and social hub
By Chris Morris
Moana Pool’s golden jubilee is to be marked with a splash, and Mayor Dave Cull is confident the facility has plenty of life still left in it. The 50th anniversary of the pool’s opening on November 14, 1964, was celebrated yesterday with the unveiling of a photographic exhibition of the pool’s early days.
Read more

The ‘convenient’ shonky comparison lives on…….

### ODT Online Sat, 15 Nov 2014
Moana Pool paid off, despite price
By Chris Morris
Forsyth Barr Stadium is not the first controversial building to capture headlines in Dunedin. Fifty years ago, a decade of debate, disagreement and concerns about the cost preceded the opening of Moana Pool.
Read more

█ For more, enter *stadium*, *dvml*, *review*, *terry davies*, *directors* or *rugby* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, DCHL, DCTL, Delta, Democracy, Design, DVL, DVML, Economics, Enterprise Dunedin, Events, Hot air, Media, Name, New Zealand, NZRU, ORC, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design

33 responses to “Stadium #TotalFail

  1. Mike

    Of course as the ODT’s article points out the total cost of Moana in 2014 dollars was ~$16m – maybe 8% of the cost of the rugby stadium – add to that that 2/5 of the cost was raised by private fundraising – imagine that.

  2. Peter

    A ridiculously superficial comparison between the stadium and Moana Pool. Are we surprised? Another intrepid piece of journalism from the ODT.

    • Mike

      Well if anything they demolished the comparison, the rugby stadium cost ten times as much, and almost half the cost of Moana was raised by private fundraising (the Jaycees) while as we all know rugby never raised any of the private fundraising they promised.

      • It isn’t just the lack of large donations from rich rugby supporters that irks me. Perhaps they’re donating to (in my opinion) more urgent causes such as providing health and educational facilities and clean water to third world communities. Perhaps they reckon commercial business (professional rugby and other entertainers, clearly the intended main beneficiaries of the stadium) should pay their own way.

        What really gets me mad – still – is the total lack of effort by rugby fans and players to put something into the “brilliant asset” by even the most humble fund-raising. Not a sausage sizzle, not a quiz night, not a sponsored ball-passing relay between the Fubar and Carisbrook, or as near as possible now, not a raffle or sale of bags of kindling, utterly 100% big fat zero. What a limp saggy bunch of takers!

  3. Does anyone remember the old heated swimming pool in Moray Place? Now that was something that was unarguably shabby and no longer suitable for the purpose, not even with the much lower population Dunedin had back then.
    Yes, a totally “apples v angle-bracing” comparison.

  4. Elizabeth

    Amateur rugby still behaves as we all do by raising funds in the community tolerably well and without resort to white-collar crime favoured by professional rugby heads and covered up by everyone in power from the Prime Minister down because these are glorious public-spirited individuals – a colleague has had this in writing just this week from a senior official who should and does know better, if it weren’t for the fact of political pressure on his head. Needless to say, no sausage sizzle or minor fund raising effort is any good in knocking off the millions outstanding to ratepayers, since either which way the cost will always be the ratepayers’. Isn’t it more ‘efficient’ to simply gather the money via the auspices of DCC (risky monetarist policy and practice accepted; not helped by the spendthrift and ill-educated mayor, councillors and staff continually driving pet projects like there’s no tomorrow) and pretend the future is fiscally manageable and ever so rosy with #gigatown in the bag. The premise is nothing short of The Goons II.

  5. As always, the only answer to professional venues is “users pays”. Simple, as Rob implies, assess the operating costs relative to use-age frequency and set the terms of lease accordingly. Not hard, but it is for the DCC as they have this misbegotten phobia about upsetting rugby. Not fair to load that onto the ratepayers. Toughen up and set the rules: ‘use it or lose it’ or it gets closed. That would bring the real world to the rugby denizens and the ‘ball would be in their twenty five’ (pun intended). If they blinked, the stadium survives, if not, it is closed and the sunk costs would be established and fixed. No more ‘drip drip’ of subsidies and bullshit, just a huge ‘cock up’ acknowledged and got on with. It’ll never happen of course with this bunch of ‘blue sky dreamers’. Other than rugby, the city’s other facilities fully accommodate viable activities.

  6. Elizabeth

    User pays is ratepayer pays. We’re one and the same people.

    As a community of rugby supporters and non-supporters (if it meant a new stadium using public money) we failed to stop the stadium project – that’s our collective cost to bear.

    Part of that cost – falling mainly to a mere few proactive individuals to take it in the neck – is the responsibility to see that the people who promoted and signed off on the stadium project, and its financing since, are made accountable.

    The well-researched documentary account is essential.

    • Mike

      No – “user pays” is charging and paying enough for tickets so that the ratepayers aren’t forced to subsidise rugby fan’s fun – what we have is a rort, a bunch of moochers slobbering at the public trough.

    • No we’re not one and the same. The ratepayers who actually go to the events pay at the turnstiles. But seriously not enough. Nor of course do the visitors. The real culprits are the NZRU aided and abetted by the ORFU. Between them they set the Super 15 events plus international tests and of course the ITM cup. In order to do all these things they need venues. That is where the ‘rorts’ come in. Their refusal to contribute the proper value for the use of those venues. It then falls, in our case to the Dunedin City Council to ask, nay, demand the correct amount to at least make a break even result. That they miss by $millions must be the biggest joke of all, around the board tables of all the respective rugby boards. The money that is transported out of the citizens’ pockets and taken away to fund the international circus would be enough to make a grown man cry. But our top dogs are not grown men.

      • Mick

        It’s the bloody television people who make the dough. Everyone else is a patsy. For all they care they can rent a crowd in Hong Hong and would in a flash.

  7. Elizabeth

    I don’t disagree, Mike – but WE let it happen,
    And where the community failed was legally. Like Babes in the Woods.

    Same again, as the stadium review rules our collective fait.

    • Mike

      Well we tried bloody hard, and we were robbed in court.

      Calven’s right in that the ORFU and NZRFU are certainly most responsible, but equally the bozos at CST and the council that agreed to contracts that mean that they must lose money – those contracts are about to come up and it’s time to renegotiate, Dave has to grow a pair and stand up for his city.

      But I think that the only people capable of shame in this process are the rugby fans, apart for a few people who genuinely like the idea of sponging off of the ratepayers I don’t think most rugby fans are that irresponsible.

  8. “WE let it happen”? Speak for yourself!
    Short of machine-gunning those in favour of it, what more could I and the other opponents have done?
    I hope Bev (frinstance) isn’t included in “WE”.

    • Elizabeth

      I am speaking for myself !!!! and every other sod who didn’t collectively get their act together as Kaipara ratepayers have with a QC or three. We could have afforded that as WE and then not had the +$20M pa to pay. WE it flipping is.

      Been down at the harbourside in the sun this late afternoon/early evening – sea air and clarity in the sunshine. Boof.

      • I was at the time struggling to put a few dollars here and there for donations for STS, there is no way I could hire a QC, not even if I believed some other people might help me to pay for one. Again I say, WE did as much as we could, given the number of enthusiasts for all those rugby internationals and the rock concerts they believed in. Besides the enthusiasts there were SO many people who drifted along amiably thinking vaguely that it would probably be good for Dunedin, and not taking in the alternative information. Alternative to the cheerleading local media and councillors and politicians (Helen Clark’s donation of tax $$ for instance) and “leading citizens”, that is.

        People don’t like people who tell gloomy truth, who rain on the parade. Even when it’s not a parade they’re particularly interested in, “negativity” and “naysaying” turns them off. Don’t worry be happy, there’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, pack up your troubles in your old kitbag and smile, smile, smile. What the huddled masses are longing for is saviours bearing promises of a free lunch.

        In other words there were too many people with money and power opposing us, too many people with neither who didn’t want to hear gloomy facts: there’s no way we could win. It would have taken more than money and QCs, it would have taken a leading group of people with uncanny talents for herding cats.

  9. Elizabeth

    Legal strategy should have been developed way earlier, effected and funded by privateers with means, without waiting for a community group to muster energies and be foiled by DCC’s Harland and Stephens and any recourse they arranged for a lazy and obtuse beak.
    Looking back, which is always a fraught exercise and not designed for winners, everything that happened was easily anticipated – to efficiently avoid the slide into Council debt and ineptitude, The People needed expensive experienced QC(s), a legal team, rigour and a few early injunctions served on DCC to create doubt. It’s called playing hard ball. The people to lead that weren’t sought inside or outside Dunedin.
    Now is the time to document everything and everyone who had parts to play so the public understands the full scope of how the stadium project got legs and ran.

  10. Rob Hamlin

    At the end of the day none of this mattered one iota as there was always a rock solid majority on Council for this project. However much money had been raised to hire QC’s to challenge this decision, they would have been matched with moneys forcibly abstracted from the ratepayers – ironically, many of whom would have been funding the anti QC’s.

    Also, as most QC’s who specialise in civil litigation derive their income from representing the government, establishment and business interests who can afford to pay them to sue each other, one would have to wonder how enthusiastic the anti QC’s would have been in seeking a decision in favour of a bunch of inpecunious plebs that would have so clearly been highly unpopular with all of their regular paymasters.

    It all begins and ends with the eight council votes that were necessary to force this project through Council. These people must bear ultimate responsibility. The rock solidness of this majority in Council, and the degree to which it appeared to be fully solidified before any of us really got to hear about this proposal, has always been a matter of particular interest to me.

    There was only a short period of time when the rock appeared to be crumbly, and that occurred leading up to the Council elections the year before the thing was finally approved. Then everybody (incumbent and likely incoming alike) suddenly seemed to become open minded and non-committal about the Foobar – (Vandervis and Guest excepted). Needless to say the rock-solid commitment to the Stadium appeared to be fully resolidified by the evening of the election in question.

    Cull is a special case. He continued to waver throughout this period, and kept in touch with the anti camp. That was until the February prior to his election as Mayor, when his attitude seemed to suddenly change. Others noticed too – one leading member of STS telephoned me (unbidden) in March of that year to ask if I had noticed a change in his position relative to the anti-stadium group. I replied that I had. He did not appear to be talking to any of us any longer.

    Looking back at it, I suppose that this ominous silence may have been the first signs of the pro-Stadium Mayor Cull butterfly emerging from his now redundant open-minded-anti-stadium-town-hall-meeting-addressing-councillor caterpillar pupa, and beginning to pump up his brightly coloured, establishment reflecting wings for flight to Auckland, Edinburgh, Shanghai (and eventually Wanaka?).

    There is a list of our elected representatives who I feel have information about this project that would be of interest to those who voted for them in good faith on the basis of their apparent position and intentions. Guest and Vandervis have least to answer for as they were clear in their positions throughout, and actively communicated them. Those who voted for them knew exactly what they were voting for (and got it).

    Cull by comparison? – Oh Dear!

    • Peter

      Spot on comments here, Rob, concerning QC’s and the law. (Nothing ever pro bono offered, by any acting lawyer, despite the gravity of the cause for the city.) A legal challenge was mounted….and an appeal…..but the powers that be were in thrall with each other. The rugby unions, the local government, admin wing, local body politicians, local National and Labour politicians (whose hearts bleed for for the disenfrancised/dispossessed) and their brothers in Wellington, the local rag, with their sychophantic ‘journalists’, and those members of the local business community who stood to make multi bucks from this project.

      Malcolm Farry’s ‘Good Morning, Bill’ (English) emails say it all really. Wheels within wheels.

      Rob. There is the question of Greater Dunedin obsequiously wanting STS’s membership list prior to that election in order to further their influence. It was refused. They were not the only anti stadium candidates and, besides, were not the most effective ones at that. That might partly explain their change of heart…though they would later call it, ‘making the stadium work’ etc. Still waiting on that one, GD.

  11. Elizabeth

    It seems that very often Dunedin people are either so tight or disbelieving of practioners of law at the high end of legal endeavour that they lay themselves open to the predatory vices of their brothers who skim public monies for no reasonable amount of personal gain, unfettered. Long live the Tartan Mafia, I offer my salute. Meanwhile, praise and support to the organised, principled, legally fortified ratepayers and residents of Mangawhai, Kaipara.

    For more, enter *mangawhai* and *kaipara* in the search box at right.

    I wasn’t talking about STS as leading the charge with QCs. Wrong group.
    Would’ve had to have been more subterranean to put legals and private money together to anchor the fight. Which would’ve taken strong leadership to ground, not a populist movement.

  12. Anonymous

    I’m guessing this city is not alone in its frustration of mayors fooled by crooks and pretty things:

    The Mayor’s Flash New Clothes.

    The Mayor of Waikikamukau
    was meant to be meeting his Board.
    Instead, he preened and he pranced,
    in the robe that he so much adored.

    Too bad about councils and bylaws,
    those meetings in chambers so long,
    he’s much rather open a building
    where he’d be admired by the throng.

  13. Elizabeth

    Comment at ODT Online.

    Superbly put
    Submitted by russandbev on Sat, 15/11/2014 – 9:37am.
    Dr Rob Hamlin’s piece says it all brilliantly. Many many ratepayers of Dunedin offered their expertise and wisdom to those on the Chin-led Council at the time pointing out exactly what the financial result of any new stadium would be. The Council members and CEO Harland demonstrated many times over an extended period of time that they didn’t want to listen and certainly didn’t want to know.
    Read more

  14. When a city is in thrall to a denizen who has no moral compass then it suffers by the swings and unpredictability of that compass. Dunedin is currently blessed with its third successive leader surrounded by sycophants who have taken it from a financially modest indebtedness of some $35 million to $360 million – and counting – in the short space of around a dozen years. Need we look further for reasons to be uneasy of our future?

  15. Elizabeth

    That is the measure, Calvin. Spot on.

  16. Elizabeth

    ### November 14, 2014 – 5:57pm
    Moana Pool hits major milestone
    Moana Pool has reached a major milestone – with staff celebrating 50 years since it was opened on this day in 1964. The pool replaced the old Tepid Pools in Moray Place, which closed as population pressure became too much. And for years now Moana Pool has been a hive of activity, regularly used by a variety of groups and individuals throughout the city.

  17. Elizabeth

    Go Ciaran.

    Comment at ODT Online.

    Well said
    Submitted by Ciaran Keogh on Mon, 17/11/2014 – 7:39am.
    [Excerpt] What makes the stadium decision even worse is that it does not generate any significant new external income – most spending on stadium income is from the local/regional populace and comes at the expense of other discretionary spending – that is it simply shifted existing spending from one form of entertainment to another – existing businesses in Otago simply have another competitor and one that is receiving a major subsidy from their rates.
    Read more

  18. Elizabeth

    Regarding subsidies, the DCC chief executive supplied this information at the extraordinary council meeting yesterday (Fubar Stadium Review):

    “Dr Bidrose said yesterday most of the increased spending would cover stadium debt and interest, with only about $1.7 million a year subsidising stadium operational costs and renewals. That compared favourably with the sums given to other council facilities, including Moana Pool ($4.16 million a year), the Dunedin Public Art Gallery ($3.8 million) and Dunedin Public Libraries ($9.58 million), she said.” ODT 25.11.14

    This, of course, leaves off what DVL represents in terms of Council debt servicing requirements.

  19. ““Dr Bidrose said yesterday most of the increased spending would cover stadium debt and interest, with only about $1.7 million a year subsidising stadium operational costs and renewals.” Yeah, well, surprising, not.
    Moana Pool, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and Dunedin Public Libraries all have people turning up and using them all the hours they’re open, whether individuals or organised groups, there’s always people – wearing out the carpets, using the toilets and enjoying the water, art, books and the various other educational, recreational and fun things people go there for. A place that is as seldom open to the public as the Fubar jolly well ought to have significantly lower running costs. If it didn’t have such an oversupply of permanent employees (considering how little use it is and they, likewise) it would cost less. Any savings that can be made, should be. Without delay. It’s a necessary step in admitting it’s a dog and “moving on” by facing reality.

  20. Cars

    The stadium has one use not considered yet. Which might make money and could be used twice weekly. A greyhound racing track!

  21. JimmyJones

    Sue Bidrose has never been good with money and her claim that only $1.7 million will be needed to pay for their stadium is delusional or dishonest. The stadium is different to the other facilities because it is mostly unused and primarily ticket-buyers go there to provide a profit to the ORFU or whoever. The subsidy for the libraries is purely for the public good, but the stadium subsidies are not.

    Sue’s claim is interesting: she proposes that the ratepayer cost will increase by $1.810 million per year and the result is that the total subsidy will become only $1.7 million/year. This implies that currently no subsidy is needed, which isn’t true.

    The latest annual reports tell us that large subsidies are needed and were paid. Combining DVL and DVML a total of $8.983 million of subvention subsidies were paid (equivalent to $6.468 million after a tax saving). Together they made losses of $4.844 million which we are responsible for, and we paid them $8.377 million for some worthless shares. Some other subsidies are for rates, Events and Community Services, total $3.050 million. That is a drain on the city for the year of over $22.739 million ($6.468m + $4.844m + $8.377m + $3.050m). Some costs not included.

    A notable feature of Sue’s plan is that it doesn’t fix this $23 million/year stadium related losses+costs, it only shuffles parts of it from one place to another. It definitely does not reduce the cost to $1.7 million/year and $23 million/year is vastly greater than the other facilities and more than we spend on all of the city’s roads and footpaths each year.

  22. Jimmy you’ve got it in one! Over $22m pa seems to be the general consensus for the bottom line. And that is based on factual reports. How Sue can believe the public can be sucked in by her review amazes me. I have stated elsewhere that the exercise is ‘rubbish’, as you cannot do budgets based on the cost expenditure side without a revenue stream to provide balance. Without that the result can only be deficits. Still, it seems to have done the trick with the councillors, except Lee Vandervis.
    We haven’t heard the last of this by a long shot.

  23. Elizabeth

    The latest opinion poll (unscientific) at Ch39:

    Is the stadium worth its cost?
    Results thus far………
    Yes 29%
    No 71%
    Total votes: 68

  24. Tom

    Stadium help requested. ODT 28/02/2015
    The Invercargill City Council voted 5-4 on Tuesday to take over the financially- troubled park from the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust, which has loans and financial commitments of more than $1.1 million it cannot meet. The city council may take over the Rugby Park as soon as two weeks, once a series of conditions is met. One condition is the council paying the stadium trust $400,000 so it can repay a loan to the Community Trust of Southland.

    {See more at post $14m Stadium Southland -Eds}

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