The Rugby World Cup is set to cost Auckland ratepayers another $900,000 - this time for two giant television screens at Party Central on Queens Wharf.
The screens will be used at the Cloud, which is being built by the Government at a cost of $9.8 million to showcase New Zealand, and as a fanzone during matches. Instead of the Government picking up a $700,000 bill for leasing the screens, Waterfront Auckland is planning to buy them for $900,000 for use after the Cup.
Sources have suggested that there has been a delay in ordering the screens from China, forcing them to being flown by air at extra cost instead of having them shipped by sea.
Ratepayers are already paying about $102 million towards the Cup, including $1.8 million for live broadcast screens and the fanzone outside the Cloud.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), the council body responsible for this budget, yesterday said it was still finalising details on the number of screens it was leasing for the Cup.
Funding for the two screens at the Cloud follows concerns over budgeting shortfalls at Party Central and the revelation last week that a senior executive hired to bring the fanzone alive had quit amid "tension" between the different agencies.
Ten days ago Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully held talks about funding issues at Queens Wharf.
They resolved to continue with all planned programmes within existing budgets.
Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell yesterday was coy about the background to the screens, saying that as joint owner, with the Government, of the wharf it was in "close dialogue with all stakeholders".
He said Waterfront Auckland had taken steps in the past three or four weeks to be in a position to move quickly on the commercial opportunity when it became apparent they could be bought for little more than the lease cost.
"As the screens can be reconfigured and redeployed, they will offer massive potential in future public events on the waterfront, including Shed 10 and structures within Wynyard Quarter," Mr Dalzell said.
Mr McCully said talks between the Government and Waterfront Auckland over recent months made it clear Waterfront Auckland and ATEED wanted to use the Cloud for some time after the Cup.By Bernard Orsman @BernardOrsman Email Bernard