Dunedin ratepayers to fork out for Forsyth Barr Stadium

Dunedin ratepayers will be required to pay a further $1.81 million per year for the next decade on top of what they already pay in rates to keep the Forsyth Barr Stadium operating, it has been revealed today.

Forsyth Barr Stadium Source: 1 NEWS

The move follows a stadium review from Dunedin City Council Chief Executive Dr Sue Bidrose, which looked into the operation and ownership of the stadium.

The option of closing and dismantling the stadium was investigated in the review but not recommended.

The Council accepted the review's recommendations in a meeting this afternoon. The revised ratepayer contribution towards the stadium has moved to $11.65 million, up $1.81 million per annum over the next 10 years.

Major issues include a lack of funding for renewals, the level of rent, and level of debt.

Staunch critic of the stadium's governance and financial operation, Councillor Lee Vandervis labelled the review a "publicly funded bureaucrats answer to what are serious business problems."

Mr Vandervis said he couldn't vote for any of the recommendations. He questioned why job cuts and cost cuts were not investigated. The answer from the Chief Executive was those cuts have already been made.

Mr Vandervis also queried the close and demolish option in the review and asked why the "realistic option" of close when not in use could be implemented.

Group Chief Financial Officer Grant Mckenzie said that option was unfeasible.

"The costs don't go away whether you're using one event or 30 events - the issue for the city is getting more events."

Councillor Kate Wilson acknowledged "the structures weren't right and the processes weren't right" when the stadium was passed through Council in the planning stages before it got the go ahead to build. However, she voted to support the recommendations of the report.

The option of selling off other council assets was raised by Councillor Mike Lord, but weren't considered a realistic outcome by the Chief Executive.

Changes have also been made to the ownership model of the stadium. A move critics liken to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic to try and prevent the ship sinking.

In his closing comments, Mayor Dave Cull said the review was a "great improvement" and argued it wasn't a further $1.8 million in rates, but a better structure of governance in addressing the overall debt burden to ratepayers.

The Council voted 14 to 1 in favour of accepting the report's recommendations - Mr Vandervis the only to vote against.