ODT headline: ‘Stadium in the black, more to come’


Very difficult to be transparently and accountably in the black if your company DVML (Dunedin Venues Management Ltd) is HIGHLY SUBSIDISED by Dunedin ratepayers.

Cut us a break from incredulity.

### ODT Online Mon, 22 Feb 2016
Stadium in the black, more to come
By Chris Morris
The company running Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium has turned a $1 million loss into a six-figure profit, and is forecasting greater returns in future. The result came as the Dunedin City Council’s group of companies released their latest six-month reports and statements of intent, which will be discussed at today’s full council meeting.
Read more

Report – Council – 22/02/2016 (PDF, 314.9 KB)
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd Six Months Financial Statements for the Period Ended 31 December 2015

Report – Council – 22/02/2016 (PDF, 119.1 KB)
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd Draft Statement of Intent 2017

Report – Council – 22/02/2016 (PDF, 493.6 KB)
Dunedin Venues Ltd Six Months Financial Statements for the Period Ended 31 December 2015

Report – Council – 22/02/2016 (PDF, 50.3 KB)
Dunedin Venues Ltd Draft Statement of Intent 2017

>>> Off to the full council meeting, started at 1:00 pm
Council Chamber, Municipal Chambers

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, DCHL, Democracy, Dunedin, DVL, DVML, Economics, Events, Hot air, Media, Name, New Zealand, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Sport, Stadiums

43 responses to “ODT headline: ‘Stadium in the black, more to come’

  1. Mike

    We all know that this ‘profit’ is purely an accounting convenience, backed up with millions taken from the ratepayers’ pockets. This is a transparent PR ploy.

    The good news of course is finally they’ve reached a point where they won’t need to take another few million extra from us this year – in fact it seems they took too much from us and will be able to give us a $461k refund – expect a 0.5% rates reduction as a result (and swine on the wing).

  2. Bev Butler

    DVML’s profit figure has as much credibility as an ant’s a-hole.

  3. Calvin Oaten

    Hurrah! Terry Davies has turned the stadium around, ground out a $461K surplus. A truly meritorious performance. Of course it’s all to do with creative accounting. First you transfer $2m of your $4m DVL rent to the ratepayers, factor in the events subsidy of $750K from the ratepayers and in six months he has reduced his deficit to just ($2.289m). So in real terms he is on track to incur an uncovered loss of round ($4m) for the full year. Bravo! give the man a packet of ‘jubes’.

  4. jeff dickie

    Talking of swine, the stadium uses the same marketing and promotion as the infamous “Fubar Pork Pies”: as they become more affordable the filling gets less. Or is it the other way round? Hard to know really. These are heavily subsidized from the outset so it is impossible to know what they really cost, and the ingredients recipe is kept perpetually secret for commercially sensitive reasons. To make them permanently more affordable there’s a sliding scale of ratepayer subsidy. Also known as “Arthur Daley Pies”, or “Malcolm’s Punch above your Weight Pies”. Although in the latter’s case these very little risk of that, due to a lack of substance. They are however, pork pies.

  5. Peter

    Delusional with a limp hand on his tiller.
    Look out for those wankers who, irrespective of the reality, give praise for what is a vacuous result.

  6. jeff dickie

    ………..ah, yes. The pastry is flaky, but there’s a choice of fillings. There’s “on the pig’s back”, “snout in the trough”, “on the trot”, and for the more adventurous the TTP [Tahuna Treatment Plant], which is the main ingredient in all.

  7. Gurglars

    No stadium, no stadium staff and even with $6 million worth of interest we would be $20 million better off. Forget the creative accounting of Terry Davies, this monolith costs us in excess of $20 million per year and it has been proven in Christchurch, they’ll watch rugby on a field with little or no stands. That’s what we should provide.

    I’m all for rugby on a field the watchers pay for.

  8. Diane Yeldon

    Delightful council meeting today. Like being in Alice’s Wonderland, as all councillors who spoke, excepting (as usual) Crs Vandervis and Calvert swallowed the mighty fish story of the stadium (and the council companies in general) doing much better financially and being reported on much better.

    Mayor Cull welcomed everyone, including members of the public, which meant ME, as being the only member of the public present at the time … later joined by Elizabeth. Any thoughts of joining those at the council table (or attempting to) have been banished by the prospect of not being able to observe these highly amusing spectacles and freely comment on them. Such fun!

    I think I might transcribe my recording of Cr Calvert questioning CFO Grant MacKenzie. Or Cr Vandervis’ questions about ‘financial movement’ reported on and his enquiry as to whether that ‘movement’ was up or down and could that information please be included in future? Shades of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers!

    Yet very good to see the DCC legal advisor (and a properly qualified one!) advise Mayor Cull ON THE SPOT about whether a Point of Order was, in fact, a Point of Order or not. Mayor Cull had thought it wasn’t. But the legal opinion was that it was. However, Mayor Cull didn’t pause to consider this but immediately said he was over-ruling it (!). WHY? I remember the issue as being over factual accuracy and relevant to councillors’ subsequent decision-making. Maybe it was more about who it came from (Calvert) than what it was. Calvert tried making a comment to the effect (I suppose) that councillors got one lot of financial information in non-public meetings and a different lot in public ones and I think she was implying that they didn’t always match and Mayor Cull shut her up with accusations of ‘making insinuations’!!!

    I must say Calvert is very good when Cull tries to shut her up and doesn’t flinch or get upset but just immediately regroups and re-phrases the point she is trying to make. Possibly the result of legal training.

    In the heat of discussion, Cr Staynes started denying that the reason for City Forests doing well financially was NOT merely because of low oil prices but said it was because of the Chinese timber trade picking up. And I’m thinking, “Whoops! That came out of non-public!!” And one of the councillors, Wilson, I think, astutely said, “Point of Order”, about to say Staynes had let the cat out of the bag. But Mayor Cull said it had been in the public domain anyway since reported on by the ODT. Which made me wonder, “How did THEY get it???” Since the press is excluded from non-public too. All very Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

    But more good news is the new staff Code of Conflict of Interest document. CEO Bidrose said it’s all always been there but not all in one place. Maybe having it all in one place will help see it’s enforced. That would stop further embarrassment.

    Good quote from Cr Vandervis about whether ‘council controlled companies’ are controlled BY the council or CONTROL the council.

    The DCC is writing a ‘letter of expectation’ to its companies to try to tweak in advance the companies’ Statements of Intent’. But, alas, this document has no legal force and Cr Calvert’s sensible and logical comment that the letter should not include the word “agreement’ because it was NOT one (since both parties must sign an ‘agreement’), seemed to completely go over the head of most present. I find the concept of a ‘letter of expectation’ hilarious and wonder how this could be transplanted into everyday life. I imagine if, generally used, the usual response would be “F*** off.” It will be interesting to see if the council companies take this tack. As an alternative, they might merely not honour their own Statements of Intent, as seems to have been the case in the past. Council controlling companies indeed.

    The way, the DCC GCFO answers councillors’ questions (well, those searching questions from Crs Calvert and Vandervis) makes me wonder just who he is working for – the DCC or the companies. Oh, that’s right. Both. As Cr Calvert pointed out, asking Mr Crombie if he would ‘get up to speed’ to answer the questions himself next time.

    I don’t actually believe that the stadium is making a profit at all or that the council companies are doing that well, particularly not Delta. But that is what ODT media reporting and these DCC properly audited accounts, using acceptable accounting practice, are leading ratepayers to believe.

    So I suspect something is out of joint somewhere. Possibly that the news will be bad, even very bad, next time reports are made but that bad news won’t get much ODT coverage.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Glorious stuff, Diane! “I find the concept of a ‘letter of expectation’ hilarious” – perhaps ‘letter of wishful thinking’ or ‘letter to Santa’?

      I’m not so sure about your Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, though of course you were there and I wasn’t. Cull’s reaction to clarification about Point of Order was clearly channelling Humpty Dumpty:

      “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’,” Alice said.

      Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t- till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”

      “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

      “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.”

      “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

      “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master-that’s all.”

      Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper some of them- particularly verbs: they’re the proudest- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs- however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

      • Elizabeth

        Diane and I did hear a lot of semantic play this afternoon – and the vainglorious Benson-Pope jumped into teacher mode again.
        It was horrid. Horrid.

        A councillor continued to praise the CCOs and their staff without knowing a thing of their true financial state so came across as extremely childish and naive. Gag material. Meek mild Alice, even if in a mushroom-altered state would have removed the fool squeally head.

        • Peter

          At the odd council meeting l have witnessed you observe a fair amount of praise by some councillors whom l feel do so to ingratiate themselves with others and to show everyone how lovely they are. Praise is important, but please do so privately and don’t waste precious time to show off your loveliness. It is sick making……and irritating.
          Such love fests l think are sometimes a cover for not having anything more meaningful to contribute. Too many politicians love the sound of their own voices when silence would indeed be more golden.

  9. This ‘Black’ they write of: could it be The Reverend Mister Black, by..The Kingston Trio?: ‘You gotta pay/for a lonesome stadium/you gotta pay it by yourself/ain’t nobody else can pay it for you/you gotta pay for the whole arena by yourself’. Disembodied voice over: “The Reverend Mister Black was his old man”.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Brownestudy: a most appropriate Dunedin stadium dirge. ROTFL! Dunedin Stadium fashion news: red is the new black. But the old black is still black, in case it might be needed should the DCC ever really get out of the financial pooh. Which, incidentally, I have wondered whether the city might be able to do by flogging off some of its art treasures which virtually never leave storage.

      This issue came up when Detroit went bankrupt and was forced to value its city art collection. A professor of Public Policy at Berkley made some interesting comments about the purpose of ‘public art’ and the way it currently usually has no ‘book value’ as a city asset – until bankruptcy threatens.

  10. JimmyJones

    Calvin is correct to say that DVML’s small profit was the result of devious financial manipulations, but the other important thing to realize is that the stadium consists of two companies, DVML & DVL. It is completely misleading to pick one of these companies and claim that this represents the financial health of the stadium – the result of both companies must be added to get a proper picture. Well, we would have a proper picture if we could add in the cost of all the various types of subsidies.

    The total loss of the two stadium companies is $0.5 million – $5.7 million = Loss of $5.2 million (before subvention subsidy and taxation).

    Remember that this is only for half a year and many other subsidies need to be added to this to get the real cost to the city. ODT reporter, Chris Morris, should change his “6 figure profit” into what is likely to be an 8 figure loss.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “It is completely misleading to pick one of these companies and claim that this represents the financial health of the stadium.” but JimmyJones, isn’t that an important reason for there being two companies in the first place? It would be much more difficult to do sleight-of-hand accounting if they weren’t separate yet possessing attributes necessary for legerdemaine. Do they really need to be two companies? For other reasons, I mean?

  11. JimmyJones

    Diane: thanks for your reportage. Audit NZ has complained two or more times about there being no conflict of interest register for staff – so it seems like CEO Bidrose has been resisting this. If this register is not going to be public then it will achieve nothing. It might achieve nothing anyway if Bidrose doesn’t take the matter seriously.
    One reason why the register has been resisted could be because the methods of ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives) of which the DCC is a paid-up member, requires the DCC to link with Stakeholders as a way to speed-up the evangelisation of the citizens with their fucked up agenda 21 ideology (aka Sustainable Development, aka Agenda 2030). Linking with Stakeholders can mean that staff are selected because of their personal associations and links. If any of these staff exist then their political/ideological predisposition should prevent them from being involved in logical/balanced/non-partisan decision making and the prescribed procedure is that the conflict of interest will be “managed”. The CEO might be conflicted herself if she hired someone because of their ideological tendencies, but now has to sack them because of their conflict of interest. The CEO might manage the conflict to suit herself and disregard the new procedures.

    • Diane Yeldon

      JimmyJones: the vague mood of the meeting was that the statements about staff conflicts of interest were too broad, defining virtually everything that anyone did as ‘potentially’ conflicted, with Cr MacTavish speaking strongly in this vein. So they wanted to send it back to the Audit and Risk Subcommittee or wherever it came from. And I was surprised by CEO Bidrose’s pointing out that if it went back to its subcommittee, it wouldn’t come back to a full council meeting to be decided on until about June and so not implemented until next year. So she requested that it should come back to her and that she could discuss it with the subcommittee and so get it back to the full council more quickly. And the meeting agreed. Re the staff conflict of interest issue itself, I can see it’s necessary to have such guidelines to give staff clarity but it seems to me that senior staff have enormous discretionary power about when to step in and how to ‘manage’ an extremely wide variety of situations. The old ‘who will watch the watchers’ problem. Certainly a scary working environment where the best strategy for staff members is to acknowledge anything they have doubts about as early on as possible. Cr Noone gave the theoretical example of a staff member having (legitimately!) organised an auction of DCC property and then have a family member win it. So there is ‘perceived’ conflict of interest but no actual conflict of interest. Good point. CEO Bidrose replied by making the distinction regarding intent. But I think there IS a serious problem in trying to deal with both actual honesty of staff members and public perception of honesty in one fell swoop, the latter being a PR issue. Be interesting to see what the final wording is. Also interesting to see how formal process is quickly ditched when something needs to be expedited.

      Link added. -Eds

      Report – Council – 22/02/2016 (PDF, 130.6 KB)
      Conflicts of Interest Policy (Council Officers)
      Report from Civic

    • Diane Yeldon

      JimmyJones: And, yes, the issue of ‘strongly held opinions’ came up, with one councillor wanting the words ‘strongly held’ omitted and CEO Bidrose arguing for them being left in. So hard to determine what the ‘neutral’ or ‘politically inoffensive to everyone’ opinions of the supposedly ideal council employee could be argued to be.

  12. Calvin Oaten

    Jimmy Jones, “The CEO might manage the conflict to suit herself and disregard the new procedures.” Probably.

  13. JimmyJones

    Just to be very clear: the stadium in this latest financial result made another big loss. Together both of the stadium companies cost the city about $5.5 million in the 6 month period. As well as that, additional costs were sucked out of renters and ratepayers to provide a variety of sneaky subsidies.
    The ODT doesn’t want my comments on this topic. This is what I sent:

    Mr Magoo Does It Again
    ODT editor, Barry Stewart, seems to have selective blindness. It happens every time there is some bad news about the FB Stadium. This time Barry only sees the good news (about DVML) and so DVL, the company that owns the stadium, has become completely invisible to him. DVL always makes a huge loss every year and requires ratepayer subsidies to survive. The ODT policy about this is to pretend that stadium news is always good news and so we hardly ever read about DVL (Dunedin Venues Ltd).
    The bad news is: DVL in the first half of this financial year made a loss before tax and before the subvention subsidy of $5.7 million. The main reason DVML improved this time was because the $2 million of rent that it normally pays to DVL was reduced to $1 million. This means that DVML is advantaged and DVL is disadvantaged. A variety of ratepayer funded subsidies (direct and indirect, overt and not overt) are used to hide the real size of the losses of these two companies. Some of you youngsters might not remember Mr Magoo. More about stadium subsidies »Here«

    Stadium makes a profit: Pigs fly: Elvis touring NZ
    speedfreak43: You are completely correct, the stadium made another huge loss for the first half of this financial year. DVML’s small profit has been dwarfed by Dunedin Venues Ltd’s (DVL) enormous loss of $5.7 million (before subvention subsidy). Both stadium companies (DVL + DVML) must be combined to judge the financial performance of the stadium. As well as DVL’s $5.7 million loss, renters and ratepayers are forced to provide a variety of stadium related subsidies. The stadium companies will continue to be a drain on Dunedin’s economy for decades to come.
    To its credit, the DCC disclosed the large DVL loss in its press release. To its shame, the ODT removed all references to DVL from the above story. DVL is the only company not in the list of six-month results. Tell the truth, ODT.

  14. Bev Butler

    The problem is that the editorial staff do not have editorial independence from the owners. There is a STADIUM EDITORIAL SUPPORT STRATEGY in place which incidentally was paid for by the ratepayers. Nick Smith can confirm this.

  15. JimmyJones

    Bev: “STADIUM EDITORIAL SUPPORT STRATEGY” sounds like a type of corruption at the ODT. If not “corruption”, then deliberately misinforming readers so as to promote the viewpoint of the owners would be a breach of trust. Readers are being tricked into thinking that they are reading accurate coverage, but what we are getting is promotional material – for each of these stories there should be a notice declaring the promotional content.
    Nick Smith needs to adjust his attitude and realize that his Stadium Policy and DCC Appeasement Policy have and continue to cause enormous harm to the city. The harm comes from all the messed-up decisions, projects and policies of the DCC staff supported by the Greater Dunedin councillors. Most of these could not have proceeded if Allied Press had been doing its job. Instead we get promotional garbage like “Stadium In The Black”. With his remaining years, Nick Smith should try to reverse the damage he has done by changing his policy to being fair, balanced, and especially, truthful.

  16. Bev Butler

    JimmyJones, what makes it even more abhorrent is that ratepayer money was used by the Carisbrook Stadium Charitable Trust to pay for the ODT’s STADIUM EDITORIAL SUPPORT STRATEGY.
    The Carisbrook Stadium Charitable Trust were negligent/reckless/deceptive in their use of ratepayer money.

  17. Gurglars

    I’m interested in why the what ifers believe it is Nick Smith, who creates and supports this policy?

    Are you sure?

  18. Bev Butler

    Gurglars, I wouldn’t say it unless I was 100% sure!

  19. Peter

    To try to feebly cover themselves, Morris does mention, in passing, that the stadium has been subsidised by the council but without a repetition of the actual figures to remind people how.
    These people just can’t accept the stadium is a financial failure, costing $20m plus a year and that we are all heavily subsidising it with our rates to make it appear to ‘go into the black’.
    The stadium debacle is bad enough, but we are now in the miserable position of having a council that has lurched from crisis to crisis during the last three years. I am deeply disillusioned. I feel we are almost back to the bad old Chin/Harland days. We got rid of some pretty nasty people from that council, only to replace them with too many flakes who seem to indulge in mutual backslapping to keep their morale up.

  20. Diane Yeldon

    I find the contention that the DCC paid for a ‘Stadium Editorial Support Policy’ quite shocking. I wonder whether this was a staff decision or one made by elected reps. If the latter, it would have to have been made in non-public meetings, under the shelter of the ‘commercially sensitive’ grounds. So I wonder if an official information request would uncover it and put it in the public domain. If it were in the public domain, it would be possible to compare the amount paid with the archived, clearly labelled advertising material for the stadium in the ODT. If there is a serious mis-match (ie it looks as if the DCC paid far too much), then the reasonable conclusion is that much or most of the ODT’s paid promotion of the stadium was NOT flagged as advertising. Editorial comment should be ‘honestly held opinion’ and ‘news’ should be factual reporting of events. Grounds for a complaint to the Press Council. And the DCC needs to have in place PR protocols to ensure that such dishonesty cannot happen again or this local authority is NEVER going to have the trust and confidence of the ratepayers. Despite cyncism about PR, it does have a useful purpose but only when those carrying it out believe that honesty is the best policy. Gulp! If this did really take place, then the words ‘conspiracy’ and ‘corruption’ IMO can fairly be used to describe it. Shocking!

    {Former judge and former DVML/DVL director (15 Sep 2009 – 28 Feb 2015) Sir John William HANSEN is the chairman of the New Zealand Press Council. He is a friend and close acquaintance of the current owners of Allied Press Ltd. Wikipedia: John Hansen (judge) -Eds}

    • Diane Yeldon

      Talk about a closed shop! Nevertheless the Press Council does have to make some effort to justify their rulings. Would be worthwhile making them squirm. I assume they want to try to retain some credibility.

      • Elizabeth

        Their rulings have been rather telling.

        • Diane Yeldon

          Well, very good to get that out into the public domain here. That the Press Council of New Zealand is a joke and just a way for mates in the industry to whitewash one another.

        • Elizabeth

          I think several types of brushes will apply but not all broad depending on the nature of individual complaints to it.

  21. Diane Yeldon

    Re-reading this and the claim that it was the Carisbrook Stadium Trust that paid the ODT. This suggests that payments must have stopped long ago. If so, why does the ODT appear to continue to ‘advertise’ – unless payments are still being made, possibly at arm’s length, by one of the DCC ‘s companies, presumably one with responsibilty for the stadium? And how did the Carisbrook Stadium Trust get such improper delegated authority, since it was acting as an agent of the council? And why did the DCC CEO at the time allow this to happen, since it was all clearly not in the best interests of the ratepayers, to put it mildly? Would a Royal Commission be an appropriate mechanism to scrutinize the process of building the Dunedin Stadium? I think it is necessary for all the truth to come out because it seems that, to avoid a repeat fiasco by any local authority in New Zealand, there needs to be either legislative changes or immediate mechanisms for enforcing existing laws when councils act illegally.

    • Elizabeth

      This level of inquiry (RCoE) has been discussed by many inside and outside this forum across many years. To no effect.

      ODT remains a sponsor of events at the stadium and a main stand, and presumably, whole or in part, a corporate suite.

      • Diane Yeldon

        Lobbying local MPs for a Royal Commission of Enquiry? And then a petition for one to a new government in 2017? I guess it would depend how the Dunddin ‘silent majority’ viewed the prospect. Maybe What If could try an ongoing poll.

        {What if? Dunedin does not host polls, it reports on polls (nonscientific and scientific) hosted by others only. -Eds}

        • Elizabeth

          Diane, most if not all local MPs are FOR the stadium or had we forgotten.
          Sorry pal. No Royal Commission is likely to get feet or legs.

          Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry are reserved for matters of very significant public interest. They have wide powers to summon witnesses and require production of evidence. Their effectiveness lies in their ability to focus solely on the questions presented to them and to inquire into any matters they see fit in order to get to the bottom of issues.

          The National-led government is a stadium supporter and provided $15M to the stadium build.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “And why did the DCC CEO at the time allow this to happen, since it was all clearly not in the best interests of the ratepayers, to put it mildly?”
      The DCC CEO at the time was Jim Harland.
      Q.E.D. innit.

  22. Anonymous

    Picked up the first edition of the Critic this morning with much enthusiasm. But they seem to have run with that “stadium has made a profit” rubbish and dropped ODT Watch. Looked and felt like FYI Dunedin. Shades of Julian? McLauchlan? Promptly returned to the shelf with an uncomfortable sensation of losing something of value.

    Forsyth Barr Stadium Picks Up Its Game

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