Secret update for council on troubled Vector Arena

By Bernard Orsman

A secret report goes to Auckland City councillors this week on the troubled Vector Arena, which has now failed to meet two opening deadlines and remains unavailable for concerts and sporting events.

Auckland City chief executive David Rankin last night said the council continued to have concerns about delays to the 12,000-seat indoor arena on the waterfront but would not comment on building issues or whether there were financial implications for ratepayers.

"We would like to see the thing open for use as soon as we can," Mr Rankin said.

The arena, billed as the most advanced entertainment and sporting venue in New Zealand, was due to open in March 2006.

A practical completion date of August 31 was not met when it was revealed the roof needed more work.

Ratepayers have contributed $68 million towards the $80 million arena, which has been plagued by building problems and hostility between the builder, Mainzeal, and Australian operator, QPAM, in the country's first big public-private partnership.

In April, Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard said the private partners carried all the financial risks and there was no risk to ratepayers of further contributions.

Richard Yan, chief executive for Richina Pacific, the owner of the arena's construction company Mainzeal, has described the project as the single worst job the builder had taken on in a decade.

Mainzeal has made a provision of $12 million for losses on the arena and the Scene apartment projects, also at Quay Park.

An arena spokesman refused to comment on what was happening at the project or to say when it would open.

* Meanwhile, a government officer yesterday met two advocates for a $400 million stadium at Carlaw Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Multinational Property Infrastructure director Lloyd Parrant said the Ministry of Economic Development officer said he would take the idea to Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard but "told us it would be quite a hard battle".

On November 27, the Cabinet decided to go with Eden Park as the main venue for the cup and asked officers to report back on funding, design and governance issues.

Mr Parrant said the group of companies keen to help bankroll a Carlaw Park stadium would "push on until there is absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel".

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