Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

$700,000 in bills adds to centre's blowout

Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton. Photo / Christine Cornege
Claudelands Event Centre, Hamilton. Photo / Christine Cornege

Hamilton City Council is being asked to cough up a further $700,000 on its new Claudelands Events Centre in the next 10 years.

The centre is already half a million dollars over budget.

Councillors learned yesterday that the centre was missing some elements including air conditioning in the exhibition halls, back-of-house heating and glass balustrades to replace 28 metal bars that impede the views from seats in the arena.

Finance and monitoring committee chairman Dave Macpherson said questions were being asked about whether the changes were necessary and should have been included in the original budget or were just "nice-to-haves".

The council will make the final decision about whether to include them in the 2012/22 Long Term Plan meetings this week.

And there are more surprises to come.

A report to the council's finance and monitoring committee this Thursday has revealed the total capital cost of the events centre was $70.19 million - including $1.34 million of work funded from budgets outside the $68.4 million envelope.

The extra spend on the arena and entry plaza has been pushed over cost because of a $31,000 spent on extra work to meet the code of compliance and $20,000 to remedy a flaw in the concrete at the arena which has caused dead spots on the wooden sports floor.

Meanwhile, the council also spent a further $1.34 million outside the Claudelands project budget on work such as site-wide fencing, site-wide signage, deferred maintenance work and site infrastructure, additional carparks and wetland works.

The work was carried out at the same time as the project because it was more cost-effective or was key to other work in the build.

Mr Macpherson said every bit of work related to a project should have been included in the overall cost of Claudelands.

"Maybe it could have been a different budget and should have been identified at the same time."

He expected the reviewed business case to include all further operational costs. The council has also agreed to commission consultant Horwath HTL to conduct a $30,000 peer review of its original 2009 business case on which the Claudelands financial projections were based.

Councillors were told last month that the projections were out and the events centre was forecast to make a $1.7 million shortfall in its first full year of operation.

Bookings have also been lower than expected.

The exhibition, conference centre and arena as of last month was predicted to meet just half of the forecasted 315 bookings in its first year.

- NZ Herald

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