26 Feb 2019

$55m repair job recommended for quake-prone New Plymouth stadium

2:23 pm on 26 February 2019

The owner of the quake-prone Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth is recommending it be repaired for $55 million -- while retaining an option to enhance its facilities for a further $14 million.

Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.

Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

The covered stands at Yarrow, the home of Taranaki rugby, have been off-limits since June last year after being declared an earthquake risk.

The Taranaki Regional Council, which owns Yarrow via the Taranaki Stadium Trust, made the recommendation at an annual plan meeting today.

It considered eight options ranging from demolishing the stands and sowing grass where they stood at a cost of $6 million, to building a state-of-the-art covered stadium worth $271 million.

Taranaki regional council chief executive Basil Chamberlain said its bankers told the council it could borrow up to $80 million, but it was more prudent to set the borrowing limit at $55 million.

Mr Chamberlain said the preferred option - Option 2 - involved repair and reinstatement of the East and West stands.

The ground under the West Stand would require remediating, while the East Stand's structure and superstructure required repairing.

Mr Chamberlain told councillors the preferred option allowed for alternative funding sources to be sought before 31 December 2020 to pursue Option 4.

Option 4 included reconfiguring the East Stand to add community recreational facilities and enhancing hospitality hosting capability.

Lending for the basic $55 million repair and upgrade would be repaid via an annual targeted rate over 25 years.

New Plymouth and North Taranaki households would pay $76 up from an average of $20, while Stratford and South Taranaki households would pay $51 per year up from an average of $11.

Commercial and industrial ratepayers would pay $428 annually up from an average of $100 a year.

Councillor Craig Williams asked if there was an option for the New Plymouth District Council, which manages operations at the stadium, to "step up" and help provide the extra funding to pursue Option 4.

Mr Chamberlain said the regional council was in discussion with the Taranaki Community Trust and the NPDC about further funding.

"There is an opportunity there and certainly the BERL modelling shows Option 4 is more beneficial at a city, district level as opposed to region wide."

BERL found Yarrow Stadium had a value to the community of $100 million over 15 years - about half in direct spending and half in flow-on spending on extra goods and services provided to stadium-goers.

Its modelling gave Option 4 the best score in terms of its potential return to the community.

After the meeting regional council's chairman David McLeod said it did not hold out much hope of receiving any insurance payout or holding anyone account for shortcomings in the stadiums design and build.

Mr McLeod said there was no material damage to the stadium in terms of an insurance claim and too much time had passed.

He said he would expect the New Plymouth District Council would look closely at coming to the party and helping to fund Option 4.

Mr McLeod said it was clear from the BERL report most of the benefits of the stadium occurred in the district council's area.

Public submissions on the plan close on 23 April.

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