North Shore ratepayers are being asked to bail out North Harbour Stadium because it cannot repay nearly $30 million in loans when they fall due.

Mayor George Wood yesterday appealed for the council to give the arc-domed stadium a clean slate.

He said this would give the Albany landmark a chance of surviving in the increasingly crowded and cut-throat business of Auckland events.

Since opening in 1997, the stadium has been run by a board of trustees but kept afloat by the council's interest-free loans of $13.8 million. The council is also guarantor for the trust, which owes $15.1 million to ASB Bank, due to be repaid in March.

"There appears to be no prospect of the trust being able to repay the loans from the ASB or from the councils on the due dates," council chief financial officer Dale Lott said yesterday.

If the ASB loan was not paid, the council, as guarantor, would be called on to meet the payments.

The trust expects to make $503,000 profit this year but Mr Lott said all of its income was needed for maintenance and improvements.

The building is showing signs of wear and tear and needs new carpet, chairs and seating, air conditioning and the main field turf is due for replacement. The council's strategic management committee yesterday decided to recommend the council take over the ASB debt and forgive total loans to the trust.

Mr Wood said the effect on rates of taking out a 30-year loan soon to cover the debt was expected to be about 0.4 per cent at first, easing when interest savings kicked in.

"Stadium staff and trustees are working tirelessly to keep the place running," he said. "But while the stadium has to keep coming to council and the debts get bigger it's a bad image for business - always having the odium and ridicule while other councils come to the party and put money into building their stadia."

Councillor Peter White supported a prompt rescue bid, saying he could not see the stadium's finances improving without it. "It's getting very hard for the stadium to compete with others around the country for events."

The $320 million redevelopment of Eden Park for the 2011 rugby World Cup would have a significant effect on North Harbour's business with Eden Park hungry for events and functions to help repay its upgrade costs.

Stiff competition would also come from the new Waikato Stadium and the Auckland Regional Council's upgraded Mt Smart Stadium. In addition, the Waitakere City Council had approved a study into the feasibility of building a 5000-seat grandstand at the Douglas Track and Field next to the Trusts Stadium at Henderson.

Councillor Tony Holman said the council faced difficulty in explaining the advantage of rescuing now a "white elephant" to ratepayers already facing a 9.5 per cent rates rise this year.

About 80 events were booked for the main ground this year, including New Zealand Knights football and North Harbour rugby games.