Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Questions over Eden Park loan

An Auckland councillor has questioned Eden Park's need for a ratepayer guarantee on a loan extension. Photo / Brett Phibbs
An Auckland councillor has questioned Eden Park's need for a ratepayer guarantee on a loan extension. Photo / Brett Phibbs

An Auckland councillor has questioned Eden Park's need for a ratepayer guarantee on a loan extension after its huge $240 million upgrade.

Cameron Brewer said it was wrong that Auckland Council had to back a $40 million loan extension from ASB after the Government forked out $189 million on the park before Rugby World Cup.

"Yet Eden Park still struggles to lift its revenue despite these new facilities. That is a real worry," he said. The park should be more profitable and he suggested selling naming rights to retire millions of dollars of debt.

"For the sake of our ratepayers, we may have to put that back on the table one day soon. The real debate will be in the coming months and years as to whether council takes over Eden Park and all its debt and the risks that come with it, or leaves the trust to it," he said.

A council report showed ASB would not stump up the $40 million loan extension without ratepayer backing.

Andrew McKenzie, the council's chief finance controller, explained how money was needed by the Eden Park Trust to operate the park. The guarantee was originally negotiated by the former Auckland City Council on behalf of the region's local bodies in July 2010, he said. It was then transferred to the new council. The trust had assets of $320 million and debt of $55 million.

"We feel it's timely to look at changes to both the ASB facility and council's loan. The loan extension provides the Eden Park Trust with a stable financial environment while it works with partners on a longer-term business model."

The upgrade cost the rugby union and the former Auckland Regional Council $10 million each; $6 million came from ASB Community Trust.

- NZ Herald

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