24 Jan 2014

Dunedin stadium facing review

10:21 am on 24 January 2014

The Dunedin City Council says the South Island city's struggling stadium is being reviewed because it will never make money the way it is run.

The announcement was made by the council's new chief executive, Sue Bidrose, at the start of annual budget setting meetings on Thursday morning.

The $230 million stadium opened in 2011 to replace the Carisbrook ground, but controversy has continued over its construction costs and resulting council debt.

Dr Bidrose said it had become increasingly obvious that the existing model set up to manage and operate the stadium and its finances was broken.

She said the stadium's original budgets were too optimistic and it would never be able to raise the $9 million needed to break even. This year, it has a funding gap of $100,000 or $200,000 and the problem will get worse without a better structure.

Dr Bidrose said some point there has to be a trigger to make a change - and that point is now. The full review will look at everything and put everything possible into the public domain.

A leading opponent of the stadium says she knew it would never pay its way. Bev Butler, the former president of the Stop the Stadium group, says the review vindicates her work.

"This is what the debate was about. This is where there were hundreds and hundreds of submissions - high quality submissions telling the council that this is what the peer reviews said and the council ignored it."

Ms Butler says she expects the council will one day have to mothball the stadium because the city cannot afford to run it.

The review is being welcomed by the chair of the board that runs the stadium. Sir John Hansen said since the board took over the running of the facility the council, it has struggled to manage the budget.