Christchurch stadium vote back on the table at city council

5:34 am on 12 August 2021

Christchurch city councillors will vote again today over the city's new multi-million dollar stadium.

Signs paperwork - the day Labour's Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and Megan Woods visited

The site for the new stadium Photo: Supplied / Christchurch City Council

Councillors decided in an extraordinary meeting last month to cut the number of seats by 5000, after a funding shortfall.

But the move sparked anger: a group of councillors put forward an amendment to keep to the original design plan and nearly 24,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the decision to be reversed.

And it was later revealed adding another 5000 seats to the stadium, in line with the original plan, would cost about $50 million, rather than the $67m figure released by the council last week, or the $88m cost councillors based their decision on at the vote.

Councillor Sam Macdonald is among those pushing for the decision to be reversed.

"I would have been really disappointed if the matter had finished two weeks ago, because the public thought that it was an $88 million bill to get to a 30,000 seat stadium," he said.

"Actually, it's not, it's $50 million and we've come up with some creative solutions to look at how we fund that gap."

Macdonald said that extra $50m would not fall on residents.

"I think it's outrageous that the government wouldn't look to support this. I don't think it's unreasonable for us to go back to them," he said.

"Secondly, we do need to work with their neighbouring councils. What's become clear is that actually the mayors haven't been approached in that respect.

"Thirdly, we actually have a parcel of land that the current Orange Theory stadium sits on. We could commit that in five years time to disposal, which we believe would go some way to bridging that gap."

Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown said the council would consider helping.

But he was a little put out by the timing.

"We haven't seen any plans, we've had no information directly to council on it at all. So, getting a question at the tail end of the process, because they need some money, feels like we've just been left out of the process and then contacted because they want to build a bigger stadium.

"That process should have started right at the front," he said.

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said he was open to talking about it - but that conversation would need to include all Canterbury councils.

He was also not sure what contribution could be made.

"The present position of our council is that we have no funding allocation in our long term plan. Importantly, we would need to discuss this with the Waimakariri community, before coming to any position."

The original budget for the project was $473m.

The Crown has already contributed $220m, as well as paying for the land itself, before paying another $10m to decontaminate it.

And as for more central government cash, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has ruled that out.

"We've put in a very significant contribution, nearly $270 million," he said.

"We believe that's an appropriate contribution for the Crown to put in. You know, we want to work closely on the delivery of this very important asset, but I think you'd understand that level of contribution is a pretty big one already."

Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner said the original decision was made by majority.

"There's been a deliberate attempt to undermine the democratic decision that was made," he said.

"At the original meeting, a majority of the councillors made a decision. And there has been a deliberate campaign and a deliberate attempt to have that decision reconsidered."

Residents needed certainty, he said.

"The decision itself is less important, in some ways, than the creation of certainty and the clear way forward it represents - preventing any further delays, so that we can actually just get on with building this thing and achieving its social and economic benefits."

Mayor Lianne Dalziel has stressed whatever decision is made today has to be the end of the matter.

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