Greens say new stadium can wait

TIM FULTON
Last updated 15:59 12/08/2014
Stadium

TEMPORARY HOME: Some people feel the Addington stadium provides a 'more intimate' rugby-watching experience.

Eugenie Sage
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ
HAPPY TO WAIT: 'We're making it very clear that we wouldn't be proceeding with the (new) stadium,' says Green MP Eugenie Sage.

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Spending ''one to two million'' on the temporary AMI Stadium at Addington could put a new facility on hold for 15 years and save the city council $300m, the Green Party says.

''We're making it very clear that we wouldn't be proceeding with the (new) stadium. The Government hasn't made that clear'', Green MP Eugenie Sage said at a Canterbury rebuild policy launch yesterday.

For a ''moderate investment'' of a couple of million, CCC could give the current sports stadium at Addington another 10-15 years and go a ''long way'' to managing its $900m earthquake recovery bill, she said.

''If you took the stadium off the (CCC) spending programme, that would save over $300m. That would free up money to help the city council with the horizontal infrastructure cost, so that's a third of the way to meeting that shortfall.''

Sage accepted it would be for CCC, sports bodies and any other private backers to call the shots on a new facility, but Greens in government would ensure ''there's discussion there''.

''There's not a large public appetite for the stadium and I think the council would probably be re-looking at that.''

The Greens would ''open the books on the anchor projects'', she said.

The Government had committed to ''a raft of big anchor projects without business cases'' that had endebted CCC and forcing it to consider asset sales, Sage said.

She didn't accept that Cantabrians would bridle at doing without a new stadium until 2030.

''I've heard that a lot of people actually like the Addington stadium because it's a much more intimate experience, watching rugby there.''

The stadium was a ''big one'' on the Greens list of expendable projects, as was the proposed Christchurch convention centre, which was a ''third bigger'' than the old one.

''We need to see business cases for the projects. We haven't seen one for the convention centre - we should. There's no detail about the public-private partnership. We know that public private partnerships generally cost a lot more, and the convention centre would end up in private ownership under the Government's proposals.''

If the Government was putting $280m into the facility it should be in public ownership, she said.  ''It's public money so we need to make sure that it's well spent.''

The Greens were opposed to the sale of major city assets to pay down CCC's earthquake recovery debt, Sage said.

Christchurch had lower rates than other cities like Auckland and Tauranga because of the dividends from Orion, the airport company and Port of Lyttelton.

''They are part of the city's future for the long-term. The port and the airport will decide how the region and the city develops strategically. We want those assets retained in public ownership to safeguard the long-term interests of the city.''

Sage did not see the city's options as a straight choice between asset sales and eye-watering rate rises. Investment banking consultancy, Cameron Partners, had indicated to CCC the possible need for annual rates rises of 10-12% in the next two years, then dropping to 5-6%.

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CCC putting a new sports stadium on hold would take it  ''a long way'' to managing rebuild costs and avoiding steep rate rises, Sage said.

- The Press

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