What's a few million amongst friends

While many students were pissing away their course-related costs in Dunedin’s “pimping new Forsyth Barr Stadium” last week, the Dunedin City Council announced that the total cost of the stadium was still not clear, and that an independent investigation by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers would take place to determine the actual cost of the project.

This follows the controversial news that the council’s roughly $140 million stadium debt will now be repaid over a 40-year term, rather than the initially decided 20-year term.

The Otago Daily Times revealed that the council will be forced to spend $55,000 to bring in a specialist team from Auckland, after Mayor Dave Cull agreed that the “On time, on budget” claims were no longer accurate. “No one really has any strict idea how much it cost”.

Cull was “Not happy” that the council had to spend money on a review to answer questions that should have been addressed during the stadium’s construction process. However he agreed to support the debt repayment change only as a “short-term fix”, saying that he thought it would add too much interest to the bill. Those opposed to the move felt that it would saddle future generations with unfair debt.

Speculation has been non-stop as to the cost of the budget blowout over the stadium, and Cull’s vexation at the ongoing issue has begun to show. When interviewed by the ODT Cull beat around the bush, saying that while the amount was “not in the tens of millions” he was unable to provide a more specific estimate than “in the millions”. When asked if this level of indeterminancy in project cost was normal Cull cunningly replied that it was clearly possible on a multi-million dollar project and that it “couldn’t happen on a project that didn’t cost millions.” No shit Dave.

Issues of cost-sharing between the Council and the University over the Plaza area of the stadium have also surfaced. University Chief Operating Officer John Patrick confirmed that these remained unresolved. Cull told the ODT that issues such as this could be addressed in the review which will especially focus on “what, who, how, when and why”, along with every other interrogative in the English language.

The most recent update of the cost of the project has seen the addition of $5.5 million of “extras” in the last year, bringing the total up to $203.6 million. “There is a series of indicative figures, but we’re not comfortable with the certainty of those, or the clarity around them” Cull said.
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2012.
Posted 4:53pm Sunday 4th March 2012 by Claudia Herron.