The Hamilton City Council is taking quick action to help the struggling Claudelands Event Centre curb a projected shortfall of $1.7 million in its first year.

Councillors voted this week to set up a working group to monitor the new $6.8 million centre, and have also agreed to an urgent peer review of the original business case.

The council expects the centre will host only about half of the 315 events expected in the original plan for the 12 months to next July.

Its figures for the three months to September show it has a shortfall of $740,138.


Council chief executive Barry Harris said it was his job to get Claudelands sorted.

He was also promoting a general manager with experience in the commercial events market.

But finance and monitoring committee chairman Dave Macpherson disagreed and said it was the council's role as the board to also get involved. In light of the damning V8 audit, the council had to be seen to be reacting quickly.

Councillor Roger Hennebry said the problem could get worse if the council did step in.

He said feedback from groups showed Claudelands was too expensive to hire for small events because the price between the old and new centre had doubled in some cases.

"I know it's only little bits but small drops fill the bucket and we have a lot to fill."

Ewan Wilson said Claudelands was flawed from the beginning despite having some positive aspects.

Other councillors were less keen on a working group, with councillor Daphne Bell asking whether it would be getting in the way of staff who had committed to making improvements to reduce the shortfall by $1.1 million.

But councillor Pippa Mahood was the only member to vote against setting up the group.

Councillors asked to be presented with the scope and costings of the peer review in December before approving it after hearing that it could cost $70,000 to $330,000.

Despite Claudelands struggling to attract events, the council's outgoing event facilities manager, Mark Christie, said Hamilton had the highest ticket sales for a Hayley Westenra concert on November 15 compared with other venues on the singer's tour.