OPINION: I would like to thank the Community Trust of Southland for being so forthcoming with information regarding the possible future of Rugby Park.
Of all the funders we are fortunate enough to have in the region, it is the CTOS I have the greatest respect for. That said, I would like to make a few comments and pose a few questions.
Mr Hicks points out that Rugby Southland has made a profit of $90,000 ($89,013) for the 2013 financial year. Those same accounts show that grant income went up by $86,784.
Rugby Southland records a management fee ($99,061.45) as income from the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust in its books every year. The CTOS proposal has the SOST being dissolved. Wouldn't that equate to lost (book) income for Rugby Southland?
A loan to the SOST of $429,475 is listed as an asset in Rugby Southland's finances along with $296,958 owed in management fees by the trust. The proposed arrangement does not show how this will be paid to Rugby Southland. The Independent Auditor's Report claims that if it is not repaid it will result in a negative equity position for Rugby Southland.
Have Rugby Southland's finances been calculated under the proposed arrangement? Are they a viable long-term tenant?
From a ratepayer perspective, I would like to say that if ''Rugby Park'' were to be owned by the ICC it would be, in effect, a Southland outdoor stadium (funded by all, for all). Therefore, will any other groups be given the opportunity to ''lease'' the facility instead of Rugby Southland under the same "this isn't a full commercial rental" arrangement?
Finally, a bouquet for Crowe Horwath for their significant support of rugby in 2013.
Community Trust of Southland chief executive John Prendergast replies: We are happy that this matter is being discussed openly; that was the objective of our article.
In answer to the specific questions raised:
1. Rugby Southland's grants income did increase last year - the NZRU increased its grant funding for all provincial unions.
2. Rugby Southland currently incurs costs in managing Rugby Park that are more than the management fee it receives in return; so its position will be improved under this proposal.
3. Comprehensive forecasts have been done which have satisfied us that under this proposal Rugby Southland will be a viable long- term tenant of Rugby Park, without SOST repaying its debt to Rugby Southland - it has no ability to do so.
4. Rugby Southland's lease of office space and the ground at Rugby Park, along with other potential users' rental, would be an arrangement between them and the future owner. We expect, however, that our proposal would result in wider community and commercial utilisation of Rugby Park's facilities and grounds than has been the case in the past.
- The Southland Times