City's rugby cup costs jump $3m

By Bernard Orsman

Photo / Richard Robinson
Photo / Richard Robinson

Auckland is likely to have an extra $3.17 million added to its bill for the Rugby World Cup.

The money is needed to cover the cost of matches moved to the city from Christchurch's quake-damaged AMI Stadium.

An Auckland Council report made public last night says the new costs will push this year's rates increase from 4.9 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

This will put more pressure on Mayor Len Brown to make budget cuts to pay for two quarter-final matches at Eden Park, and probably a pool match, that were to have been played at Christchurch.

The mayor could not be reached last night to comment on the extra cup costs and where he might make budget cuts to reduce the size of the rate increase.

Ratepayers are already putting up $100 million for the cup, including $65 million for upgrading Eden Park and surrounding infrastructure and $35 million for running costs, such as traffic management and the waterfront "party central".

Auckland councillors will debate the extra funding tomorrow.

The extra costs include a $2.243 million bill to the council - and its ratepayers - $300,000 to Auckland Transport and $625,000 towards building a new broadcast tower at North Harbour Stadium.

The stadium is likely to host a pool match between Australia and Italy.

The public will be barred from a separate session of the council, covering a financial contribution from Rugby NZ 2011 and a business case for upgrading the broadcast tower.

The public report said there was "no additional economic benefit from building the tower", which is expected to cost $745,000, including $120,000 from the stadium's trust.

The extra matches are expected to cost $3.035 million.

The Auckland Council will pay $2.243 million, and Auckland Transport, RNZ 2011 and the Government the other $792,000.

Extra revenue from new games could offset the council's costs, the report says.

Extra costs include traffic management, rubbish collections, campervan servicing, providing training venues, fan zones, communications and a contingency of $500,000.

A business case by the Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development board put the economic benefit of the extra three matches in Auckland at between $27 million and $40 million.

Mr Brown, who pledged before Christmas to try to hold the rate increase to less than 4 per cent is now struggling to hold the rise to 4.9 per cent.

He has not told ratepayers where he intends to make $60 million of spending cuts to bring back a projected 9.2 per cent increase to 4.9 per cent. Now he must find another $3.168 million of savings to offset the cup costs.

Cutting more than $63 million from the budget could affect any number of services, such as free swimming pools in Manukau costing $6.76 million and a $12 million budget for new library books.

Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer said the $3 million-plus bill was a lot more than the $1 million figure suggested by Mr Brown on the eve of the announcement of the extra matches this month.

Mr Brewer said he was concerned the council was not resisting having to pay the cost of the Government's decision to move cup matches from Christchurch to Auckland.

He said Prime Minister John Key had said the Government would meet the $4.1 million costs of fixing the uninsured turf at AMI Stadium because of a $10 million windfall from moving the quarter-finals to Auckland.

City Vision councillor Cathy Casey, who has been a vocal critic of the size of the ratepayers' bill for the cup, said the latest request was not about rugby but "helping our brothers and sisters in Christchurch".

- NZ Herald

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