Aucklanders are having to underwrite a $40 million shortfall for the Eden Park upgrade because the park's guardians cannot make a financial contribution towards the $256 million project.

The Eden Park bill is on top of $100 million that might be required if the most expensive revamp of Queens Wharf, favoured by central government and three of the four mayors of Auckland's biggest cities, is adopted.

And when other costs associated with the cup tournament are added up, the bill to Aucklanders is about $240 million. These costs include $55 million for new infrastructure, such as widening Sandringham Rd and upgrading Kingsland railway station; and $35 million for festivities.

Eden Park Trust Board chairman John Waller said yesterday that the board was not in a position to borrow money for Eden Park as initially envisaged and needed bailing out in the form of a "bridging loan" from ratepayers.

Late in 2006, when the board was promoting a $320 million upgrade of Eden Park, it promised $65 million for the upgrade by way of a $17.5 million loan and $47.5 million from the sale of sponsorship and other funding sources.

Three years later and with no sign of money from the board, Rugby WorldCup Minister Murray McCully said the Government was not putting any more money into Eden Park beyond a $190 million contribution from taxpayers.

Auckland, he said, was going to have to rise to the challenge of meeting the shortfall.

In addition to the Government's $190 million, the New Zealand Rugby Union is contributing $10 million, the ASB Community Trust $6 million and the sole ratepayer contribution is $10 million from the Auckland Regional Council.

The funding shortfall has left Auckland City Mayor John Banks, whose city includes Eden Park, searching for a solution.

Mr Banks plans a meeting of the mayoral forum next Friday, which could lead to "Auckland Inc" generating a loan of $40 million.

The issue is political dynamite for Mr Banks, who was elected on a promise of not putting any Auckland City ratepayers' money into the Eden Park upgrade and does not want to reverse pledges while campaigning to be the first mayor of the Super City.

Mr Banks stressed he was making no promises to the Government or the trust board for a solution, but he does have backing for a rescue package from North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams, Manukau Mayor Len Brown and Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey.

Mr Banks said he expected Mr Waller, a leading accountant and Bank of New Zealand chairman, to provide a robust business plan and budgets to show it could repay and/or finance the loan.

As well as conceding the inability to borrow money for Eden Park, Mr Waller made two other surprise announcements yesterday.

He said the full cost of the upgrade was not $240 million as previously stated, but a further $14 million to $15 million to pay for items such as giant video screens, ticketing, turnstiles and professional fees.

Mr Waller said the board could also cut back on expenditure around the park, including landscaping work. He acknowledged that would be a breach of the board's resource consent, but a solution could be to delay the work.

Eden Park Neighbours' Association president and Auckland City councillor Mark Donnelly said he expected the public body to take an ethical approach to the landscape plan after watering down earlier promises for public improvements.

Mr Waller said that over the next three-to-six months the board would begin a sponsorship and membership drive.

He could not give an assurance that the board could fund the shortfall from a $40 million bridging loan after sponsorship, membership and other funding sources had been exhausted.


Growing bill for Auckland:

Eden Park shortfall: $40m
ARC contribution to Eden Pk: $10m
Queens Wharf: $100m
Infrastructure: $55m
Festivities: $35m
TOTAL: $240m

Eden Park - who's paying the bill?
Government: $190m
Auckland Regional Council: $10m
New Zealand Rugby Union: $10m
ASB Community Trust: $6m