My Fair Lady and two celebrity-led plays in the past month.

Auckland City's entertainment business, The Edge, has lost $2.5 million on the musical My Fair Lady and two celebrity-led plays in the past month.

The losses eclipse the Auckland Regional Council's $1.79 million loss on last December's David Beckham-LA Galaxy soccer match, which Auckland City Mayor John Banks called an outrage.

"The ratepayers of Auckland will be shocked at this very bad news and instalments of worse news that logically follow this kind of incompetence," he said of the Beckham loss.

Yesterday, Mr Banks - who voted behind closed doors last October to underwrite My Fair Lady - refused to acknowledge any incompetence by the council or The Edge in the huge losses.

Asked if Auckland City ratepayers would be shocked at the bad news, he said: "I think they will be disappointed, but I think in the scheme of things they won't be surprised."

He said the council had a huge investment in entertainment infrastructure at The Edge and it was not up to him to make commercial decisions about shows, "but I would have the wit to make decisions about Mr Beckham".

The Edge chairman, accountant Richard Waddell, refused to discuss the losses yesterday and referred questions to chief executive Greg Innes.

Mr Innes said My Fair Lady was a victim of the economic downturn and lost $1.9 million.

The Opera Australia production at the Civic Theatre needed 50,000 patrons to break even, but drew only 18,000. It opened on March 25 and closed two weeks early on April 12.

Mr Innes said The Edge also lost about $500,000 on two classic plays - William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale and Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard.

The plays were part of an international arts season featuring a cast of British and American actors, including Ethan Hawke.

Mr Innes said he was extremely disappointed at the losses, but people needed to look at the longer-term picture and the role of The Edge in enhancing the city's culture with lots of exciting and international quality events.

"Over time we have been successful," he said. "We have our ups and we have our downs."

Nearly 100,000 people attended Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: the Musical last year, giving a profit of more than $1 million, he said.

The profit was put into an Edge fund used to underwrite shows carrying a risk. The current fund of $1.1 million will be topped up by the council to the tune of $1.4 million, leaving The Edge with a nil balance for risky shows.

It has had to cancel a July season with leading dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet.

ARC chairman Mike Lee said Mr Banks' comments on the Beckham match were ill-considered and unfair as Auckland City promoted it and persuaded the ARC to take it on.

But, Mr Lee, said, "I'm not proposing to repay him in his own coin."