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Eden Park Trustees reject Auckland Council cost-cutting proposal
The trustees of Auckland’s largest stadium, Eden Park have rejected a proposal that Auckland Council says would allow it to pay back a $50 million debt underwritten by the city's ratepayers.
Apparently rejecting the opportunity to be part of Auckland Council’s integrated management stadium model, the Eden Park Trust will continue to operate as an independent entity.
Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), the body responsible for Auckland’s major venue, said it presented the Eden Park Trust with a report demonstrating that savings from integrating its management with other stadiums would allow the stadium to operate at a healthy profit.
RFA Chief Executive Robert Domm told the New Zealand Herald “we have proven that it can be done but they are not coming to the party (but) we can't do much about that. They are operated by an independent trust."
Auckland ratepayers underwrote the final $40 million of Eden Park’s $256 million upgrade for the Rugby World Cup and are owed $6.5 million from an earlier loan.
Eden Park has been widely criticised by hirers as being a high cost venue. The Auckland Warriors NRL team have apparently been deterred by such costs having undertaken a three-game trial at the venue this year.
Facing potential costs of roughly $1 million a season to move all of its games to Eden Park, the Warriors have now opted to play all of their 2015 home matches at Mount Smart Stadium.
In a report in the New Zealand Herald, Domm added "Eden Park has got to reduce its costs, we have been saying that for three years
"They have got too much debt. They are able to service the interest on that debt but they can't fund depreciation.”
Eden Park Trust Chief Executive David Kennedy had "no comment to make on Mr Domm's views", but went on to tell the New Zealand Herald that “(the Trust) is on record as supporting the stadium strategy that has been developed by the RFA. This support has been continuously expressed at council meetings and in formal submissions.
"(The Trust) remains the only major stadium in Auckland to meet all of its financial obligations (including all loan commitments), pay full rates, meet all operating costs and make a positive cash profit without any support from ratepayers.
"We continue to look forward to being the major sporting facility in the region and making a positive contribution to the wider Auckland community."
However, it appears a plan for the stadium to become the city's major sporting venue by hosting the Warriors, Blues, All Blacks, international cricket and major events such as the NRL Nines has effectively been scrapped.
A $30 million Auckland Council plan to create boutique stadiums at Albany and Western Springs for league, cricket and concerts would likely mean events moving away from Eden Park, affecting Eden Park’s revenues.
Domm continued "our focus on Eden Park has come and gone when they decided they didn't want to be part of the integrated management (stadium) model.
"We are kicking on making a success of our three stadiums. We have turned a net loss-making operation into a profit-making operation in three years."
Click here to read the New Zealand Herald feature Eden Park opts to go it alone.
The Eden Park website can be viewed at www.edenpark.co.nz
12th March 2014 - EDEN PARK CONTRIBUTES $72 MILLION TO AUCKLAND’S ECONOMY
24th October 2012 - MORE CONSULTATION ON AUCKLAND COUNCIL STADIUM REPORT
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