Author Archives: paullecomtedunedin

Cheers folks it’s been fun

Hi all, this is a goodbye from me of sorts. After starting this site way back in March 2007 & after a staggering 750,000+ views I’ve had to make the decision to step down from all Admin responsibilities and ownership of the site. 

We’ve come a long way, and with Elizabeth at the helm things will still pretty much run along the lines they have been recently. As you know for most of the time we haven’t agreed on many issues & points, and the site made massive advances when I invited Elizabeth as co-contributor, a He Said/She Said kinda thing.

At times this site is ahead of the play on many issues in this amazing city and does a wonderful job. We have been the envy of most cities around the country, driving conversations that simply wouldn’t happen anywhere in the media.

It’s a heck of a lot of work for one person to carry on the site, so I do hope you’d appreciate how much work actually goes into this. Links to update, comments to approve (some to delete) but always putting the city at the forefront.

So play nice ladies & gentlemen, yes by all means keep up the robust debate, but remember that the freedom of speech doesn’t give the freedom to offend or slur.

I of course will continue to read & who knows I may even get time in the future to contribute to the site in ways I simply can’t at the moment.

All the best, it’s been fun, but as the Two Ronnies would say, it’s over to you now Elizabeth.

Thanks, Paul Le Comte



Filed under Stadiums

STV Voter Education

“So, as a voter in an STV election, you can be confident that your vote stands a very good chance of helping to elect a candidate you like.

For example, in the Dunedin Central ward, where eleven councillors will be elected, almost 92% (or 11 out of 12) of the votes cast will help to elect a candidate.

As a proportional voting system, STV also increases the chances that the councils and boards we elect will reflect the diversity in our communities (assuming that the candidates themselves are diverse).

We also know that STV elections in New Zealand have tended to have higher voter turnout than FPP elections, and that STV elections encourage a wider range of people to consider standing for councils and boards.

This is also good for our democracy; the more people turn out to vote in local elections, the more confident we can be that our representatives have a mandate to act on our behalf.”

The second workshop will be held 6:30pm St Andrews Lounge, Cavy Presbyterian Church, Thorn St South Dunedin, Thurs 26th. All welcome


Filed under Democracy, Politics

Are you freaking kidding me?

What the bloody hell was I saying just the other day.

You DO NOT come onto this site & say any vile shit that you think fit.  YOU DO NOT make threats against other people, YOU DO NOT wish people dead (figurative of literally) you DO NOT say shit that will see me in front of the courts.

Calvin you are that freaking close from being banned & your email address published for the would to tell you just how they bloody feel.  I can only guess from your behaviour you are a 10 year old boy discovering the internet for the very first time, sadly I know this not to be true & who should know better.

BTW Calvin, you have not been exactly 100% stellar with the facts & figures when it comes to crunching the sums here, so please for the love of pity sake, refrain from loading a shotgun full of stones and standing in a glasshouse (this place).

I tell you people, this is the last bloody time. Clean your bloody act up or it’s bye bye Whatif & start you own site up.

Paul Le Comte – really f-ing pissed off.


Filed under Stadiums

you may call me God

Hello, God here!

no What If hasn’t been hacked by some higher power and no I’m not drunk or anything, but it’s about time we set some things straight at what-if, because for all intents and purposes I am god here.

You may remember I started this blog to encourage debate about the design, architecture and ‘other’ aspects of what was to become Forsyth Barr Stadium.  This was fine and dandy & almost no one visited the site.  Then the STS imploded and I invited Elizabeth Kerr onto this site as a he said/she said two opposing views of the stadium development.

Things of course took off, and there was some robust debate.  However pretty bloody quickly I got sick of the emails threatening me with legal action over comments on this site.  These were followed by abusive phone calls – yes screaming down the phone to me is abuse, legal phone calls and finally legal documents, all because you bloody fools can’t help yourselves.

You come onto this site, making the most pathetic, outlandish and more often than not slanderous comments, and who’s the bloody mug that has to deal with it all – me!

What’s really bloody disappointing and ultimately annoying is, in among the tin-foil-hat-conspiracy-theory shite that is espoused in the comments section, are some gems of information that worthy of debate and ultimately good for the city.

I am sick and fucking tired of getting legal documents and emails, asking me to remove or edit comments on this site.  You will all appreciate I more or less give you all free reign to say whatever it is that you have on your chests.  

I can tell you now that although I disagree with roughly about 110% of the crap that you all say here, I let it go, because of the weight of the forum as a focus for robust debate on the built, economic and political environment of Dunedin.

But my patience rightly so is about to run out. I DO NOT need to come to ChCh to deal with a terminally ill cancer friend only to have to consider your fucking insulting and slanderous comments.

Let this be a notice to you all. I WILL NOT tolerate any more Slander, conspiracy theories, cheap personal insults bordering on slander, cheap nasty generalisations bordering on slander, or any stupidity that results in me getting calls or legal letters threatening me with legal action.  Quite simply I will close the site down.  I will archive it and hand it to the Hocken as a record of document around a time and place in Dunedin.

You are of course more than welcome to go to and sign up for a free wordpress blog and start your own site, calling people whatever names you care to, I could suggest some names for this site for you…

but I’d be at risk of breaking my own rules above.


FYI, things off limits from now on are:

personal attacks on members of the public (including elected officials) with even the slightest hit on slander or liable,

Any references to Climate Change or ‘Eco Nazi’s’. Those wishing to deny climate change are more than welcome to visit,

Any so called ‘fact’s & figure’s that you simply decide to pull out of thin air.  There’s nothing I love more than being ridiculed by the accounting/business community when they ask why I allow voodoo maths & economics to stand as fact,

Academic freedom and the right of academics to do their work without slanderous and libellous attacks.  Countries that you and I wouldn’t care for one minute to live in have greater respect for Academic freedom than some of you folk on this site,

And at the risk of being a self righteous prick who contradicts all of my rules above, I couldn’t give a flying F…

This site used to be visited by thousands of people daily/weekly looking to get tasty morsels and robust debate.  It’s slowly eroded into a festering pit of ridicule and shame. 

This site is not ‘public’ property, and it is certainly NOT your playground to espouse any and all comments which time and time again put me in hot water!  Because I know for a fact, that hiding behind your pseudonyms, you are not the ones fielding phone calls from lawyers or replying to their emails – no that would be me – bloody muggins.

You have been warned and yes you may call me god.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Stadiums

Prophetic 1996 #EQNZ ChCh Doco

Post: Paul Le Comte

1 Comment

Filed under #eqnz, Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Heritage, Politics, Urban design

Banks, Barron & Co Building Collapse pics

Early removal of the Parapet of the historic building. Literally brick by brick. They then took the skip down to the ground, I walked around the other side to get a pic and then the remaining section of parapet falls down onto the Dragon Cafe Verandah – my moment of photo journalism genius missed. Argh.

Showing the newly exposed inner of the ceiling cavity.

Destruction of the Verandah with the rest of the double bricked Parapet collapsing to the ground. Sadly imagery very familiar to folk from CHCH post earthquake.

The Council engineers and Historic Places Trust experts examining the Parapet, ceiling cavity and facade of the building. Speaking to experts on the ground, after the collapse of the Parapet onto the verandah new increased structural damage was done, to the extent that the double skinned brick facade was thought to be tentatively holding on to the structure – but little visible sign of actually what was holding the facade on was seen. Also fresh cracks were found on the south wall, large enough to see through the wall onto the Crown Hotel.

[Click for larger image]

After consultation with experts and engineers, it was decided to keep on with the softly softly, brick by brick approach. For this I love the Lund team taking the time and effort to do this. That bloody bush proved to be a pain for them.

[Click to enlarge]

Unfortunately they couldn’t stop everything from crashing down. This pic showed debris falling down as they try to remove a large section of the parapet. The random tree had its roots embedded very deep into the structure of the building. Reports were that there were inches of bird poo, birds nests everywhere and rotten timbers that made up the roof. Thus bricks and mortar work was rotten to the core. You could certainly see the demo team taking only soft hits to the brick with a rubber mallet to remove much of the parapet bricks.

Salvage/Demo Team

Basically the whole of the parapet of the building has gone, some fallen onto the verandah below, but much of it taken down over hours brick by brick. The plan was to go down only as far as they need to. If more damage occurred, more cracking etc, and if the engineers say, then another layer of the upper sections will be removed. They are planning to take away large sections of the Northern Wall tomorrow, as that has a huge lateral crack running the length of the wall.

Back of the building [Click to enlarge]

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Heritage, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design

2011 Happy New Year from What If…

First of all a very happy new year to all of the readers and contributors of the site. The past 2 years have been huge for Dunedin and this site. A wee while back we passed the milestone of 200,000 visitors to the site! When I first sat down thinking it would be fun to have a wee blog to discuss the design and architecture of the stadium little did I know what would become of the site. From the fun, serious and bizarre, this site has had it all over the last 2 years, but most of all it’s been one fantastic place for the frank and open discussion about firstly the stadium but latterly the city at large.

For that I am completely indebted to Elizabeth Kerr for her tireless work on updating content here. Little did I know that when I thought it an obvious step to invite prominent anti-stadium campaigner as a he said/she said, or good cop/bad cop (won’t speculate which hats we were wearing) opposing voice on the site, that it would be Elizabeth that would take the site to the next step.

So to Elizabeth on behalf of myself and all the contributors thank you so much. Finally to the contributors & commentators thank you. We’ve covered a lot, from sports to political systems. Without all of your contributions this would not have been possible.

We must be doing something right for 200,000+ reasons for folk to come back and visit the site.

2011 is going to be a massive year for not only the city but the country. I hope you all have a safe and fun New Year.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Fun, Inspiration, People

New stadium frenzy (heaven)

In the wake of the decision to hand the 2018 and 2022 world cups to virtual footballing minnows (with all respect to Russia), the race is on to design and build a plethora of new stadia.

Thankfully The Telegraph from the UK has a nice feature on the stadiums either under development, redevelopment or still in the planning stage.

Firstly, FIFA Football World Cup 2018 Russia


are just two examples from the winning Russian bid.

While these are from the Qatari winning bid for the FIFA 2022 winning bid (basically the bid I was hoping that was going to Australia).

As soon as I get a chance to get more details of these stadium projects I’ll post more.

Post by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Inspiration, Site, Sport, Stadiums, Urban design

Dunedin going backwards – not.

In my all too polite and considered way, I’m writing a personal defence of STV in response to this mornings rant by Warwick Johnson.

Voting system must be reconsidered
ODT Mon 13 Dec 2010

First of all, let’s get the failures and inaccuracies out of the way. What is so difficult of ranking the candidates you like? Seriously, I do this every time I go to the supermarket, I like bananas very much, but on the off chance that I’m not having a banana day, I’ll get some apples too. But oh I do also like Central Otago Apricots, so I’ll have a little of them in my fruit bowl too.

STV couldn’t be more simple if you tried. You put 1 beside your most fav candidate, 2 beside the second fav, 3 beside the 3rd, 4 beside the 4th – see the pattern here? I bloody hope so or the education system in NZ is in deep trouble.

Seems Mr Johnson had trouble with this:

“Confronted with a list of 39 names, what did you have to do? Number 1 to 39? Number 1 to anything at all? Put a tick beside everyone you liked? Any or all of the above? There was even less knowledge of how to vote strategically to get the people you wanted and eliminate the people you didn’t want.”

Perhaps a pretty picture may help with this.

Which if you have succeeded through the education system to at least intermediate you could possibly have a voting paper that looked like this:

So when Johnson asks “what did you have to do? Number 1 to 39?” and the voting paper (example of which is in the ODT article ) clearly states;

Start by writing the number 1 in the box next to the candidate you most want to be elected. Write the number 2 next to your second most preferred candidate, and so on… You can write as many preferences as you like up to 39.”

I’m sorry if you are going to write such an impassioned whinge in the ODT and expect to get away with it, think again. The voting paper couldn’t be any clearer if it tried. And I’m not making this up, it’s true, it’s there in black and orange on the voting paper. If you go into the voting booth and follow those instructions then you will have completed a ballot in an STV election {you may now proceed onto Intermediate School}.

The rest of the attack on the actual ballot paper vote system is nothing more than a thinly veiled conspiracy theory.

“There was even less knowledge of how to vote strategically to get the people you wanted and eliminate the people you didn’t want.”

You know what, don’t like someone, don’t vote for them. Wow this STV stuff is getting simpler and simpler. Just as in FPP, where one person gets 11 votes, if you don’t want someone in the council – DON’T VOTE FOR THEM.

If you are politically motivated enough to want to vote strategically, then spend the time (as you would under FPP) talking to your friends and family about your options, read the candidates information in the newspapers or online – talk to the fella in the pub, but voting strategically isn’t any different or special under STV.

Here’s another fav of the disaffected FPP supporter:

“Many… demonstrated they had no idea how votes are actually calculated”

You know what, I have no idea whatsoever how the mechanics of a plane works, but I trust the professionals to get my terrestrially-based body from point A to point B. So far 100% of the time it works and I don’t complain about it – perhaps I should hark back to the days where I needed to see the flaps of the Sopwith Camel in action? That aside, if you are that worried about it, why not head over to the elections web site and watch the very very simple animation of how it works.

But to make things even simpler, I’ve included a small animation from the British Columbian STV campaign web site – yeah yeah, sorry it’s aimed at such a simple level (and instead of Riding, think Ward – the rest is the same), but it seems that simplicity isn’t something folk want when discussing STV.

OK, you are all now well on your way to secondary school. You’ve ranked your candidates, leaving out nasty Mrs Smith of #92 down the road (you know the one who insists on hanging her washing out in order of size), the computer calculates the votes, and results are posted.

Congratulations, you have just partaken in an STV election. It’s as simple as that, and yes Rod Donald was right – actually it’s easier than buying a lotto ticket, that involves some pretty complex thinking and mathematics to make sure you don’t miss out the birth date of your 3rd child in the numbers.

Now for the nub of the opinion piece,

“Before the election… there was a widespread demand for change in the governance of the city. Yet the election resulted in very little alteration in the makeup of the council”

Oh, OK so you’re not happy with the results. STV must be faulty, it must be rigged somehow, after all according to Johnson “it was because the system is too complicated for voters to use properly and because it incorporates biases”.

So I’ve clearly demonstrated above how EASY it is to vote under STV, and I trust the computers to get the simple calculations correct, then it must be because of biases in the system.

[FYI if you do need to know how to work out take-off in your next flight, follow this simple equation – and this is only part of the calculation]

I think that Johnson has a difficulty with the alphabetical listing of the candidates – and this is apparently a bias? All voting papers are alphabetical – FPP, MMP & STV. Otherwise what is the alternative, put at the top of the page the people that Johnson thinks should be there, or the ones that I think should be there, or like Mrs Smith from #92 down the road and rank candidates according to height? This is bloody madness, alphabetical listing of candidates is the most unbiased method available. If Wilson, Lloyd suffered because of his name (rather than my deep knowledge of the South Island Chairman of the Motor Vehicle Importers Industry Association), perhaps a cunning candidate would change their name to Aaaaardvark, Aaaron and guarantee themselves a top place and according to Johnson a certain place on council.

Council would be very funny wouldn’t it.

“The Motion presented by Cr Aaaaardvark, was seconded by Cr Aaaaaaaallan & Cr Aaaaaden”.

Alternatively a very expensive printing bill could be used if every ballot paper had random order of candidates. However all of this silliness aside, what Johnson is suggesting is the fundamental inability of the voter to exercise free will. Personally, the voting behaviour of individuals is complex and at times very funny. But to assume that the voter is that incapable of running their eyes over the ballot paper and put numbers beside their preferred candidates, and to NOT vote for their least desirable candidate, is in my view is doing the voter a disservice.

“I see no point in rank ordering the 11 I want elected, let alone going down the list perhaps as far as number 39.”

More fallacy. To see no point in rank ordering the 11 Mr Johnson’s wants in council is a little disingenuous, because under FPP there would have still have to have been 11 decisions made. If Mr Johnson only wanted 11 councillors under FPP, just as in STV, he would’ve had to have made an informed choice for these candidates. But to say “How on earth they differentiated between the virtual unknowns in the bottom quarter of the list is a mystery”, is bewildering. Crs Stevenson, Walls, Weatherall along with Tozer, Thompson & Vandervis are hardly ‘unknowns’ in the community – a couple of these names are on the Greater Dunedin ticket Mr Johnson is part of?

So after the fallacies, Mr Johnson gets to the issue of spoilt votes. The funny thing about STV ballot papers, you can actually scrub out the number you put beside a candidate and put another. The returning officer for Dunedin has confirmed that even if the computer can’t read the scribbled rankings of the Ballot, an actual person looks at the paper, and if the intention of the voter is easily understandable (and there were many of these ballots) then the vote is registered so.

But after all that, Mr Johnson gets to the heart of his disenchantment with the STV system – the intention of the voters. Apparently STV doesn’t deliver the council what the people want.

It is completely irrelevant if “Ms Tozer, for example, was more than 700 votes ahead of Mr Acklin in a first past the post count.”, because the system is STV and voters were allowed to exercise their right to cast lower votes for candidates x,y & z. Which is exactly what they did do in handing Cr Acklin and Cr Hudson eventual places back on the council. They carried more ranking votes in the over all vote. That is the system.

But Mr Johnson’s disgruntled ramblings continue, and apparently Democracy should be alarmed at the lack of transparency. Transparency is that funny thing which people think equates to equality or fairness. Transparency in FPP is no greater that under STV.

“Only with great difficulty and some reasonable computing skills can the public get any picture at all of why the voting ended up the way it did.”

It’s a computerised system yes, it’s complex yes, but is it flawed, does it have biases? I don’t think so. When Mr Johnson asks how do we know if the system isn’t flawed, I guess we have to leave that to the panel of experts, nerds and geeks which produced it, the parliamentary committee that approved it, and the professionals charged with operating it. Just as I have to trust the engineers, geeks and professionals who combined to create an aeroplane that gets me from Point A to Point B from time to time. Could Mr Johnson please explain how Sir Robert Muldoon’s National party which got FEWER votes in BOTH the 1981 and 1978 elections than the opposition, yet is returned to power, is fair and just because it’s transparent. In 1978 National got 11,000 fewer votes than Labour, but 11 more seats. That sort of transparency for the sake of democracy is just wrong.

Further “And in the event of a recount, if the second set of figures differed from the first, which version would be more likely to be right?” Well that goes for FPP, MMP or any other system that allows for recounts. These are just silly arguments.

In the end, when the numbers were crunched Dunedin got the council it voted for. If Mr Johnson wants randomly ordered ballot papers (again assuming the inability of the voter to exercise free will) for FPP, then surely the same can be applied to STV.

Personally, I have no time for this line of argument posed by Mr Johnson, it’s the tired grumblings of the FPP disenchanted, adding nothing to the debate. The irony is that early on Mr Johnson claims that so called experts were confused, the problem with this type of opinion piece is that it only adds to the confusion by throwing up false arguments and fallacies which I just couldn’t let lie.

Harking back to a system that is so fundamentally biased and has been proven not to reflect the will of the people isn’t the way forward for Dunedin. The way forward is for fallacies and misconceptions to be dispelled and discussed.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Economics, Hot air, Politics


As mentioned in the comments here someone pressed the wrong button the other day, and in true internet style, someone (me) was watching.

Interesting story in the ODT (Online) I finally got to read on Sunday morning about the last truss of the stadium being put in place. Cool I thought, get down there over the weekend and get some pics (as you do), only problem, the stadium truss isn’t up?

Now unless I missed something and the truss went up and is now back down again, this was a wee whopsie by the ODT, of course this was picked up the by the keen eyes of the readers of Whatif. The truss is firmly stuck to the ground and still being completed. I went back to the web page again today to see what the story is, and of course the article has been taken down.

I just hope they pre publish the results of the Melbourne Cup next year, give the folks of Dunedin a chance to get a bet on ;-)


Filed under Media, Stadiums

design daily: preserving our heritage buildings

Why it’s imperative central government is involved in preserving our heritage buildings

Very interesting article by Dierdre Robert over at which has quickly become one of my fav sites in NZ. There is always a great article to read there relevant to New Zealand, which lets face it has been difficult to come across in the past. Design Daily is an off shoot of Idealog magazine – which if you aren’t a subscriber to you should be.

“With the Government’s announcement that it will contribute $10 million in addition to local funding to assist with the repair, restoration and strengthening of heritage and character buildings in the Canterbury region, comes news that three buildings on Wellington’s Willis street—all over 100 years old—are being demolished, without any public notification.”

Full article here…

Post by Paul Le Comte

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Filed under Architecture, Design, Economics, Heritage, Politics, Site, Urban design

Nick Smith gets spatial on design

Yes another reason why is one of my favourite sites in NZ at the moment. Of course this leftie struggles to find anything inspirational coming out of Nick Smith, but nice to see a Minister of the Crown talking these issues.

“The state of urban planning in New Zealand has been a contentious issue for sometime now, and in a recent speech to the New Zealand Planning Institute at their Auckland Spatial Plan conference, Nick Smith revealed the Government’s plans to make urban and infrastructure planning a more effective process, both nationally and in the context of Auckland’s Super City.”

Full story here

Post by Paul Le Comte

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Filed under Architecture, Design, Economics, Town planning, Urban design

In defence of STV

“or How I learned to stop living the past and learned to love the vote.”

This posting is in response to the submission of Jeremy Belcher and Calvin Oaten to the DCC Electoral Review Committee, in February 2005, in which they criticise “Meeks NZ STV” and put forward their own Belcher/Oaten Method, which they claim is better than STV in several ways. A comment from Mr Oaten (with a link to the submission) was posted by Elizabeth Kerr on 22 August.

In his submission, Mr Oaten attacks single-seat STV, on the basis that it is the second preference votes of the least successful candidates that determine the outcome, and that the second preference votes of the highest polling candidates play no part in determining the final result. He calls this a “travesty of representation”.

What he fails to understand is that, under STV (in both the single- and multi-seat cases), second and subsequent preferences are merely contingency choices only; they are not additional votes having the same value (the value of unity) as first-preference votes. The system is called the single transferable vote for a reason – everyone has just one vote, which is transferable if necessary. If second preferences given for all the candidates were taken into account, i.e. if each voter had two votes, of equal value, even though only one vacancy was being filled (that were then merely tallied and the candidate with the highest combined total of first and second preferences was declared the winner), many voters would discover, too late, that their second preferences had served only to help defeat the candidate they had actually voted for, being the candidate for whom they had given their first preference. Now that would be a travesty of representation.

Mr Oaten then launches into multi-seat STV, again not realising that second and subsequent preferences are contingency choices only, not additional votes. He is critical of the fact that, in a three-seat ward, voters do not have three votes (of equal value) under STV, completely overlooking the reason why – if voters had three votes, in a worst-case scenario, the largest minority grouping (perhaps comprising only 35% of all voters), could use their three votes to elect the three candidates they wanted, with the remaining 65% of voters getting nothing. Clearly, Mr Oaten wants STV to, in effect, be the system it replaced – multiple-FPP.

Mr Oaten proposes his Belcher-Oaten Method, that he claims would correct NZ STV’s deficiencies. It is, in fact, a clumsy version of multiple-FPP. In a 3-seat ward, he wants the first three preferences to have the same weight, being the value of unity. As previously stated, this would enable the largest minority grouping to use their three votes to elect the three candidates they want, with everyone else missing out. Taking his example of Cargill 2004 on page 6 of his paper, he has determined that the total number of first, second and third preferences is 5210 + 5178+ 5127 = 15,515. To him, this is the number of valid votes. His Quota formula (on page 5) is 15515 / 3 = 5171.67 times 4 (the number of vacancies, plus 1) divided by 10 (the number of candidates), i.e. 40%, which equals 2068.668, which he has rounded up to 2069.

If the required three candidates have not attained this quota, then the total number of fourth preferences are assigned to the candidates on a pro rata basis according to his formula (on page 7). For Teresa Stevenson, therefore, the calculation is 327 / 4927 = 0.0663689 times 327 = 21.702, which he has rounded up to 22. In other words, voters have multiple votes (value 1), equal to the number of vacancies, plus further votes, if necessary, assigned on a pro rata basis, i.e. at less than the value of unity (327 votes, that he now calls preference votes, become 22 votes).

He calls his method “Proportional STV that reveals the true will of the People”. Surely he jests. First, it is not STV – it is a multiple-vote system (not a single vote system), and no votes are transferred; preferences are merely tallied.

Second, it is not proportional representation, because it is essentially multiple-FPP (with additional pro rata votes beyond the nth preference in a n-seat ward). Taking his example, three people he dislikes, because they share “political, social, lifestyle, or cultural associations or sympathies” (page 4, fourth bullet point), being Stevenson, Doug Hall and Paul McMullen, fill the three seats. In Cargill 2004, under STV, the three winners each obtained 25% of the votes, meaning 75% of the total of votes were effective in helping to elect a candidate, and they were quite different from each other. Under the Belcher-Oaten Method, the three winners are politically / socially aligned (according to him), but are elected with a total of only 7216 votes (plus 217 pro rata votes [22 + 195]) out of a total of 15,515 votes (plus 217 pro rata votes), i.e. on only 46.51% of the total of votes!! This means his Quota formula has no rational electoral basis, which leads to a concomitant conclusion that his method is well short of being mathematically rigorous.

Consequently, third, far from revealing the true will of the people, his method grotesquely distorts that will. He simply hasn’t clicked to the fact that the 987 voters who gave a second preference, and the 876 voters who gave a third preference, to McMullen (for example), would have, in many cases, helped to defeat their most preferred candidate, such as Paul Hudson or Michael Guest. Although it would be transparent, it is hardly fair, accurate or democratic. And once those voters see what they’ve done (because of the transparency), they’ll never express second or subsequent preferences again, and then we’ll be back to FPP – actually, we would have, by default, a close approximation of the Single NON-Transferable Vote in a multi-seat ward (a system, previously used in Japan, that produces unequal representation, or no representation at all, for voters).

Mr Oaten states that the first preferences of the highest polling candidates are never looked at (page 3, paragraph immediately above the table, and in a posting dated 22 August (at 11.35 a.m.)). That is simply not true. For example, once Stevenson attained the quota, her keep value was recalculated (at iteration 3) as 0.98857…, and was recalculated as the count progressed. Her final keep value was 0.66775… That means, at the conclusion of the count, she had kept 66.78% of all her votes, and the remaining 33.22% had been transferred to the second and subsequent preferences on her votes (both her first-preference votes, and those votes she acquired along the way), to help elect other candidates.

I suspect Mr Oaten laments the fact that, in Cargill in 2004, he was excluded from the count at the same time Stevenson was elected (at iteration 2), which meant he was unable to benefit from any second preferences given for him on her 1,313 papers. But, at iteration 3, Alan McDonald only received 104 papers from her (value 1.89 votes), Steve Young only received 156 papers from her (value 1.78 votes) and even Jo Galer and Nicola Holman only received 202 and 200 papers, respectively, from her (value 2.31 votes and 2.28 votes, respectively). The simple fact of the matter is, Mr Oaten was always destined for an early exit, because only 142 people (out of 5,210) voted for him. Not even the Belcher-Oaten Method would have saved him.

In conclusion, I commend the DCC for creating the 11-seat Central Ward. What this means is that any candidate who receives one-twelfth (8.33%) of all votes cast [45% of (say) 65,000 electors = 29,250 x 0.833 = (say) 2,400 votes] will be elected. Any group of voters, comprising 8.33% of all voters, will elect a candidate to represent them, regardless of who larger groups of voters may want.

Click here for a paper that explains how single-seat STV works, and the rationale behind the system. (PDF)

Click here to see a paper that describes multi-seat STV, and the rationale hehind the system. (PDF)

Click here to see a paper that describes how single transferable votes are counted, and how individual voters can work out how their vote was used. (PDF)

Click here to see a paper that explains STV to voters (PDF).

Click here to see a paper that reconstructs in meticulous detail how the votes cast in the Cargill Ward in 2004 were counted. (PDF)

Click here to see the guide prepared for the Department of Internal Affairs, the Society of Local Government Managers Electoral Working Party and Local Government New Zealand (PDF)

Author: Steve.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Inspiration, Other, Politics

Academia’s 2cents worth

As promised (several times actually), here’s some of the 120 published academic articles I have found on stadium related issues. Not risking copyright breaches, I’ll include all the bibliographical material, an abstract and if interesting some quotes etc.

Hope these are of some interest to some. I know they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but some of these are very very interesting and add an academic context to some of the discussions we’ve been having here. Some that were published in the 1990s and I know have been redressed I’ll chase up tomorrow when on campus.

If there’s an interest I’ll create a separate page for the inclusion of these – only 100+ to go.


New Sports Stadiums, Community Self-Esteem, and Community Collective Conscience

Rick Eckstein
Villanova University

Kevin Delaney
Temple University

Sports economists have created a sizable literature on the costs and benefits of publicly funded major-league sports stadiums. This research suggests a growing consensus that stadiums provide little economic advantage for local communities. In response, some stadium supporters have modified their tactics to increasingly avoid claims of tangible economic benefits. Instead, they insist that new stadiums offer communities more intangible social benefits. These alleged intangible benefits can take many specific forms but usually have something to do with a community’s self esteem or its collective conscience. This article draws on the authors’ primary research in 10 U.S. cities that are involved in different stages of new stadium construction. The authors demonstrate how local elites socially construct ideas such as community self-esteem and community collective conscience to help them reap large amounts of public dollars for their private stadiums.

Journal of Sport & Social Issues, Vol. 26, No. 3, 235-247 (2002)
Web Link


If You Build It, We Won’t Leave:
Turner’s social drama in newspaper coverage of stadium construction controversies

Ronald Bishop
Drexel University, USA

Controversy over the construction of new professional sports stadiums has occurred with such regularity that it now amounts to a “ritual”, using the definition developed by anthropologist Victor Turner. The process that begins with a team expressing its desire for a new stadium and concludes with the construction of that stadium has all the markings of a “social drama”. Playing a key role in this social drama are print journalists working in cities where stadium controversies unfold. Using a case study approach, I explore the social drama of stadium construction in Philadelphia, New York and New England. News coverage in these markets reveals the four stages of social drama: breach, crisis, redressive action, and reintegration. Team owners manufacture the breach, with the help of government officials who do not want to see franchises move elsewhere. Crisis emerges out of negative reactions to plans for a new stadium. Team and governmental officials then use very public means to try to bring the crisis to an end. Often, they fail in this attempt, and the parties are once again enveloped in crisis. New alliances, often built on cooperation between former opponents, emerge as the parties try to end the crisis. My analysis reveals that journalists in these cities have acted as agents of reintegration. They move from criticising to endorsing these stadium projects. The narrative that emerges gives the impression that everyone agrees on the need for the new facility, and that construction, though it may be delayed while the parties come together, is inevitable. My findings can help journalists to take a critical look at their coverage of stadium controversies, and to explore the impact of the coverage on their relationship with the communities they serve.

Journalism Studies, Volume 2, Number 3, 2001, pp. 373–392


Not in my back yard! Sports stadia location and the property market

Larissa E Davies
Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University

In recent years sports stadia have been built in the UK, not only for their intended sporting purpose but with the twin aim of stimulating economic and physical regeneration. However, proposals to locate stadia in urban areas often prompt a negative reaction from local communities, fearing a decline in property prices. This paper will use a case study of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the City of Manchester Stadium to illustrate that in contrast to this widely held belief, sports stadia can actually enhance the value of residential property. Furthermore, it will argue that stadia also contribute indirectly to property value through the creation of pride, confidence and enhanced image of an area.

Area (2005) 37.3, 268–276


Stadia tours and the power of backstage

Sean Gammon, Victoria Fear
The University of Luton

Stadia tours arguably represent the least researched area within the sport tourism literature. Consequently, this paper explores the reasons for the growth and popularity of this relatively new type of visitor attraction by suggesting its appeal is similar to non-sport related tours as outlined by Couldry’s (1998) analysis of the Granada studio tour in Manchester. It is argued that the success of a stadium tour is in its ability to promise and consequently reveal the authentic backstage. Moreover it is suggested that these types of tours illustrate (by use of a case study at the Millennium Stadium: Cardiff) the growing recognition of sports stadia being salient symbols of local, national and international heritage.

The stadium tour is fast becoming a significant part of many destinations’ tourism portfolios. Many sports stadia have evolved from being functional utilitarian buildings to places that hold meaning and instant recognition to both fans and non-fans alike (Bale, 1994; Gaffney & Bale, 2004). The global nature of sport has meant that such venues are fast becoming iconic symbols of place; drawing tourists to them in a similar manner to other more conventional attractions (John, 2002). However, at this time it is unclear what the draw is to such tours and what is typically offered on them. Consequently, this paper aims to gain a deeper understanding of the motives and experiences of visitors to stadium tours by referring to, and adapting Couldry’s (1998) study of soap fans to the Granada Studios Tour (GST) in Manchester. For added context an analysis of the Millennium stadium tour (Cardiff) will be included which will outline the tour design and explore the experiences of the tour visitor.

Journal of Sport Tourism 10(4), 2005, 243–252


Important Places and Their Public Faces: Understanding Fenway Park as a Public Symbol

Michael Ian Borer

Places are not only the settings for a culture’s myths, narratives, rituals, and ceremonies. Sometimes, they become the main characters. And people are drawn to those places where a culture’s narratives are not only told but play an important role in defining that town’s or city’s or nation’s character and identity, helping to remind them not only who they are but why who they are is important. Places act as reminders of a community’s identity, past, and present. As a public symbol, Fenway Park reminds the people of Boston who they were yesterday and who they are today.

The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2006


Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Subsidies for Sports Franchises, Stadiums, and Mega-Events?

Dennis Coates
Department of Economics, University of Maryland

Brad R. Humphreys
Department of Economics, University of Alberta

This paper reviews the empirical literature assessing the effects of subsidies for professional sports franchises and facilities. The evidence reveals a great deal of consistency among economists doing research in this area. That evidence is that sports subsidies cannot be justified on the grounds of local economic development, income growth or job creation, those arguments most frequently used by subsidy advocates. The paper also relates survey evidence showing that economists in general oppose sports subsidies. In addition to reviewing the empirical literature, we describe the economic intuition that probably underlies the strong consensus among economists against sports subsidies.

August 2008
Working Paper Series, Paper No. 08-18
International Association of Sports Economists
North American Association of Sports Economists


Beyond the Economic Catalyst Debate: The Importance of Consumption Benefits

Charles A. Santo
The University of Memphis

A host of empirical studies have indicated that stadiums and arenas have no significant impact on metropolitan area income or employment. In light of this evidence, the continued proliferation of public investment in sports facilities begs the question: Is there some other justification for this spending, or are policymakers simply acting against the public interest (either irrationally, or in response to political-economic influences)? A possibility that has not been fully explored is the notion that stadiums and teams generate tangible and intangible consumption benefits that could support some level of public investment. This research builds on a small foundation of literature that is moving discussion beyond the economic catalyst debate by providing an empirical measure of the consumption benefits that accrue to a region as the result of hosting a major league sports team. A contingent valuation survey is used to quantify the consumption benefits that would be associated with the relocation of a major league baseball team to Portland, Oregon. An empirical measure of the region’s aggregate willingness to pay for the benefits associated with hosting a team is disaggregated into option and existence values, which can then be compared to any proposed level of public contribution to a new stadium. The findings indicate that consumption benefits would only support a capital investment of approximately $74 million; a figure far smaller than the typical stadium subsidy. The majority of projected benefits are associated with expected public goods and externalities, rather than anticipated attendance, indicating that an equitable financing plan should employ nonuser revenue sources. The level of projected benefits does not vary by locality within the metropolitan area, which argues for a regional cost-sharing approach. The willingness of residents to pay for stadium construction is tempered by a concern about other pressing social needs in the Portland area and a reaction to the current tax climate.

JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS, Volume 29, Number 5, pages 455–479.


Post by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design

Another Stadium, another debate

There doesn’t seem to be a week go by in which the construction of stadia doesn’t attract media attention, dividing opinion and posing interesting urban planning issues. I have said my bit re the place of stadiums in the community and my belief that they provide a greater social, political and economic role than their perceived face value brings. As John Bale states “The stadium, like the church, is a place of congregation—and, some would say, worship” [Temples of Earthbound, Gaffney, 2008, University of Texas Press].

Debate continues to rage, and much of this is conducted in the press, but here I’ve included link to a couple of books which I have found fascinating on this topic (I won’t bore you with the 30 odd published academic articles on the topic from the last couple of years).

So a touch of light Sunday reading of the San Jose Mercury News revealed this front page article on the Proposed new A’s stadium. The Oakland A’s are a baseball team based across the water from San Francisco in Oakland, having been there since 1968. As is the way with US based sports teams, they are only franchises, and as such are at the whim of their owners as to where the team is based, and as such there have been some funny/interesting/sad team relocations over the years, this could be just another of these.

As an aside, here’s yet another Stadium Debate, with similarities strangely close to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

{Warning the PDF file is 800kb large}

Nice front page read, if you like newspapers, you can browse many of the world’s newspapers’ front pages at Newseum

You can follow the full debate over at the San Jose Mercury News special section on the A’s relocation @ I do have a soft spot for the A’s, as they were the first MLB team I saw play on our return from Yosemite National Park. They play at the Oakland Coliseum, sharing the ground with the local NFL Football team, a true multipurpose stadium, hence my interest in this topic.

This is a street tour of the area of the proposed Ball Park, with poor old Patty’s Inn one of the casualties of the development.

The following are great reads.

Post by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Fun, Inspiration, Media, Politics, Site, Sport, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design

They’re doing it everywhere

I came across this gem in the wonderful website Fast Company (yes of the magazine fame).

New York’s Architectural Eyesores Become Public Art

“Starting last week, the Alliance for Downtown New York’s Re:Construction project has been dressing up five sites around Lower Manhattan with work by artists like Katherine Daniels and Maya Barkai. It’s a follow-up to the first phase of Re:Construction, started in 2007, which covered ten sites.”

A very short article but nice to see our ‘problems’ are universal.

Link to Fast Company website article

{Author – Paul}

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San Francisco 49s Stadium

Continuing What if’s fascination with stadium construction projects, thanks to a very nice newspaper infographic from the San Jose Mercury News (consistently one of the best newspapers for design), we are given a very brief summary of the debate surrounding the debate and wrangling to build the San Francisco 49s Football team a new stadium.

Intro from Wiki.

The San Francisco 49ers presented a plan on July 18, 2006, to construct a new 68,500-seat, open air stadium to be built in time for the 2014 NFL Season at Candlestick Point in San Francisco. Originally, part of the area surrounding the current 49ers venue, Candlestick Park, was to be zoned for retail space and housing; the new 49ers stadium was to be combined with such elements, bringing much-needed attractions to the historically blighted neighborhood of Hunters Point.

Currently, after failed attempts by the 49ers and the city of San Francisco to come to an agreement on the location of the new stadium, the 49ers ownership is looking at other places in the Bay Area, notably south suburban Santa Clara, where the 49ers’ administrative offices and training facility have been located since 1987.

The Road To Kickoff
{Warning this is a large image 700k}

Some links (wow talk about similarities).

Not With Our Money
Official 49s Stadium site

Other links you may source from the Wiki entry on this stadium debate.

Posted by Paul Le Comte

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Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Hot air, Inspiration, Politics, Stadiums, Town planning, Urban design

Stadiums don’t build themselves

Someone famous once said, the only way to get big things done, is to use lots and lots and lots of people.

This is true for the Forsyth Barr Stadium construction team. From the architects and designers, the engineers and planners and through to the hard manual work done by those in steel capped boots and hard hats.

While we can all marvel at the big machines, there is an astonishing large amount of work done as you would expect by hand. This is a small tribute to some of these people.

Posted by Paul Le Comte. Images ©PLC 2009


Filed under Construction, Inspiration, People, Stadiums

Regeneration of Gateshead

How Think Big should be remembered/envisioned.

Gateshead Council is about to embark on one of the BIGGEST ever housing regeneration projects in the UK. We are looking for Joint Venture Partners to work with us and deliver new housing for a variety of Gateshead residents. This once in a lifetime deal will transform and revitalise areas of Gateshead for the future.

We have already built a successful reputation based on our imaginative and groundbreaking approach to regeneration. This continues today with our ongoing developments in the town centre, our £300m Baltic Business Quarter and other Quayside developments.

And now we have another project – it’s a BIG deal for us, for our communities and for the partners who work with us.

If you’ve got the VISION, we’ve got the OPPORTUNITIES and together we can TRANSFORM Gateshead – JOIN US

Posted by Paul Le Comte

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Stadium Open Day

{Update – ODT Link Curious Flock to Stadium Site}

In the first of what will be a series of Open Days, the construction site was opened to the public today in the form of a gold coin donation to the Rotary Club.

While the weather was less than favourable (indeed atrocious when I was there near the end), the estimates of 1500-2000+ numbers through the gate is a great effort.

You entered the complex and were treated to some nifty multimedia courtesy of the WIC stadium time lapse construction images. I liked this, it’s a nice way to instantly make you feel like this is not just a throw the doors open and have a look event.

One of the great advantages of this building site is the fact that there are still roads running through it, and construction (and hence we visitors) aren’t battling the mud all day every day. Unfortunately, as you’ll see from the pics, the weather was bad and got worse. There was food and coffee for all to enjoy before they started the tour.

Construction on the North Stand is well under way, with the first of the main columns now emerging out of the footings.

There were plenty of drawings and other material to help you decipher what was taking place around you.

Of course the most prominent work to date has been on the main South Stand.

You can see that the visitors needed protection from the weather.

Despite the weather, there were plenty of construction folk about to answer every conceivable question put to them.

More of the main South Stand.

Some people are going to remember this for a long time to come!

There is of course lots of steel within the concrete of the structure.

More folk to lend a hand or word of wisdom about the structure and construction.

In this view from the south looking north you can start to appreciate the scale of the construction, (if I’m not wrong) the top outside trusses of the structure will be roughly the height of the tops of the cranes pictured. Looking front left you can see an example of the configuration and types of seating that will be used.

Inside (sheltered from that drenching rain) you could see the ETFE roof membrane set up.

DVML chief executive David Davies talking through some of the details with the stadium model.

and finally, David Davies with Guy Hedderwick, commercial manager of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, at the end of a long and wet, but informative and by all accounts successful afternoon in the rain (but not mud).

Post by Paul Le Comte. Images ©PLC 2009


Filed under Architecture, Construction, CST, Design, Events, Fun, Pics, Site, Stadiums

Stadium Pic of the Day


I can almost imagine sitting up on those soon to be completed seats and taking in an event. The form is filling out.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Construction, Design, Inspiration, Pics, Site

Stadium Pic of the Day

stadium street

Post by Paul Le Comte

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Cowboys Stadium opens

Today (literally as I am writing this midday Monday) the newest sports stadium hosts its first game. The $1.2B USD Cowboys Stadium is the stage for the Dallas Cowboys vs The New York Giants, in which a little over 100,000 fans get their first taste of this stunning arena. Sure it’s been open for a while and hosted the likes of Paul McCartney, but this is what it was built for – football.


Pitched on the NBC broadcast as one of the new wonders of the world (well they are American and like to embellish a little).


Yeah that’s over the top US TV for you. But here is some beautiful eye candy since you are all stadium fans!


The screen is 600 tons and they had to make a new ruling for the stadium in case the ball hits it. And this from inside the jumbotron.


There’s a nice section within the Cowboys site on the stadium with a nice (building) collection of slide shows.




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University of Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium

One of the most innovative and progressive stadium developments ever has been completed at the University of Minnesota. Below are a couple videos I came across on Discovery Channel over the weekend.

and this more recent one with a little more substance.

Ed: Paul
{You’re right Phil we do need to start adding who the Ed of each piece was – learning curves}.

desolate south dunners

Not quite the environment conducive to a family fun tailgate BBQ, is it.


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Inspiration, Stadiums

Railway corridor

Someone brought up the issue of the changes to the road plan which have come about as a result of the stadium construction. There is no doubt that the main highway linking the city and Otago to its main port should not be down Anzac Ave, and that it needed to be re-routed.

But then there was criticism that the railway corridor could be used for the road. Let’s look at that railway corridor, it’s hardly a productive place in which aesthetic sensibilities need be considered. Really do we want this ‘useful’ space being preserved?


And these are the neighbours who won’t be sleeping so well at night with the increased road traffic.


Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Design, Inspiration, Pics, Town planning