Cost of stadium may hit $40m

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012
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The cost of the Stadium Southland rebuild may balloon to $40m - $11.5m more than the original estimate - and the Government has all-but ruled out giving the project a cash injection.

Stadium trust chairman Acton Smith went cap in hand to Prime Minister John Key in August, asking for $1.5m, but said yesterday the Government's response was not positive.

"They have said to us that it's unlikely."

Mr Smith said yesterday the cost over-runs had got to the point where it was possible the final stage five of the project, known as the hero option, may not go ahead.

But he stressed no decisions would be made until the new year when the stadium's final costs were known and all funding options had been considered, including asking the public for donations and getting a bank loan.

When asked if the stadium could cost as much as $40m, Mr Smith said it may cost that much, but he would not know until the new year.

The stadium costs have ballooned from an original estimate of $28.5m in 2011 to $34.5m five months ago to a possible $40m now.

Mr Smith indicated yesterday that the trust had between $35 and $36 million nailed down to build the stadium.

However, with the stage five hero option to cost about another $4m, it was possible it may not proceed, he said.

"We will look in the new year to see if we can proceed prudently."

Stage five, if built, will be the stadium's "community sports house", consisting of office space for the likes of stadium staff, the Sharks basketball and Steel netball franchises, other Southland sporting groups, medical rooms and function rooms.

"The key thing is to get stages one to four done because that's the replacement of what we had before, with improvements." The costs had continually risen during the rebuild as a result of the more stringent building requirements following the Christchurch earthquakes, Mr Smith said.

Citing an example, he said the trust had allowed for 47 tonnes of reinforcing steel to go into the ground for stage three of the rebuild but the engineers had demanded 170 tonnes.

Stadium manager Nigel Skelt yesterday said he would like to see the stage five "hero option" built because it was what the community had asked for when it was consulted.

If it was not built there was a danger stadium bosses would have to go back to the community in five years and ask for more money to give the stadium more space, he said. "It's important we future proof the stadium for the next 20 years, we need enough space . . . we don't want to have to rebuild again in five years time."

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He supported asking the public for donations and questioned what was wrong with borrowing money for the stadium.

"Is there a reason why future generations shouldn't pay a little bit towards it?" Mr Skelt said.

Meanwhile, The Southland Times understands the successful naming rights sponsor for the stadium will be announced soon.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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