Rugby Park 'victim' of rival stadium

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2014

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The Southland Outdoor Stadium is sinking in debt and Rugby Park has been a "victim" of the multimillion-dollar stadium in Dunedin.

The stadium trust, which owns Rugby Park, has finally submitted its accounts for the year ending October 2013 to the Department of Internal Affairs exposing the situation the trust is in.

The accounts show the stadium trust has a net operating deficit of $315,551 including depreciation of $223,331. But even excluding the depreciation, the stadium trust is spending more than it is earning.

Stadium trust chairman Ian Tulloch said the accounts indicated the difficult position the trust was in and how Rugby Park had been a victim of the new Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"It's about consistent with where we are at."

Revenue from corporate boxes dropped almost $30,000 compared to the year before and cellphone tower rent halved.

Tulloch said the $15,000 corporate boxes had not been as popular with fewer Highlanders games and the Dunedin stadium not far up the road.

However, they ran at about 80 per cent occupancy, he said.

But Tulloch was positive and said with the Highlanders going so well, it was shaping up to be a good season for Southland and he hoped that would correspond to people hiring the corporate boxes.

Ground maintenance costs rocketed up $40,000 compared to the year before, now costing the trust $105,103, and administration fees jumped almost $10,000 to $128,993.

Tulloch conceded costs had increased and payments to Rugby Southland, which is paid $99,000 to manage the facility, increased with inflation, he said.

But the current liabilities sit at $785,512 owed to various organisations, including accounts payable of $303,525. A current liability is deemed as a debt that has to be paid within a year.

But with that end of year date creeping up quickly, there is little money to pay what it owed.

With just $162,611 in current assets and $56,770 of that being accounts receivable, the $785,512 figure is much larger than the trust's operating income of $171,892.

Tulloch said the trust still had the major asset of the stadium but conceded it did not help with cashflow issues: "$6 million isn't worth much unless you go and sell it."

Rugby Southland general manager Brian Hopley did not return calls and the Community Trust of Southland issued a statement yesterday saying it was still supportive of the trust.

The community trust had previously proposed to wipe $200,000 from its $750,000 loan if a solution for the stadium was found.

Community trust chief executive John Prendergast said that offer still stood.

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