Dunedin mayor keeps silent

WILMA MCCORDKINDALE IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 15:10 07/11/2012

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Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is declining to comment on a statement by former Carisbrook Stadium Trust (CST) head Malcolm Farry laying the blame for stadium debt on the Dunedin City Council.

Mr Farry this week told D Scene that stadium cost increases occurred because council-appointed stadium chief executive David Davies changed the venue's operating model.

''CST spent considerable time and resources studying the operation of the completed stadium,'' Mr Farry said.

''International consultants created the model with financial projections. This was benchmarked against the Wellington stadium with allowances for population differences and stadium size. It was then peer reviewed.

''The CST was to be responsible for the management and operation of the completed stadium, to ensure a seamless transfer from construction to operation and the efficiencies that go with that.

''When the DCC decided to form a new company, Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and transfer that responsibility to them we advised the DCC of the additional risk such a dichotomy in responsibilities would create. But the DCC decided to follow their own plan and consequently our operational concept was discarded,'' Mr Farry  said.

''Without doubt, David Davies changed the model and hence cost increases occurred.''

Davies recently left his job as stadium chief to return to England to be with his family.

People's feedback on Mayor Cull's bid to make the stadium work is giving a subcommittee more than enough to mull over before it meets on November 30.

City policy analyst Tami Sargeant said more than 400 people responded to questions to elicit ideas on how to make the stadium viable.

The committee would also consider a review by the city council's company, Dunedin City Holdings into the stadium's financial and operating model.

Submissions close on Friday.

Last week, Dunedin Venues - the Dunedin City Council-controlled entity which owns the stadium - reported a net loss after tax of $4.311 million.

Dunedin Venues Management, created to run the stadium on Venue's behalf, lost $3.2m in its first year.

In its report, Venues Management noted it had ''had its fair share of challenges'' but hoped there would be growth in stadium use next year.

Mr Cull said he made the call for community help because the stadium needed to be as profitable as possible to help service the debt.

The big issue was not whether the stadium could work but the massive debt connected with it, he said.

''On the other side we want to optimise it as a community asset for community use,'' he said.

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- D Scene

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