Stadium’s trustees reject cost-cutting proposal by council.
Eden Park has been left to fend for itself after rejecting cost-cutting proposals Auckland Council says would allow it to pay back a $50 million debt underwritten by the city's ratepayers.
Regional Facilities Auckland [RFA], the body responsible for the city's stadiums, said it presented Eden Park's trustee operators with a report demonstrating that savings from integrating its management with other stadiums would allow the stadium to operate at a healthy profit.
"We have proven that it can be done but they are not coming to the party," RFA chief executive Robert Domm said.
"We can't do much about that. They are operated by an independent trust."
Auckland ratepayers underwrote the final $40 million of the $256 million upgrade for the Rugby World Cup and are owed $6.5 million from an earlier loan. A number of sports have cited the costs associated with operating Eden Park as an issue. Following a three-game trial this year the Warriors NRL club declared it would play all of its home matches at Mt Smart Stadium next season.
The Herald understands the Warriors' figures showed it would cost the club roughly $1 million a season to move all of its games to Eden Park.
"Eden Park has got to reduce its costs, we have been saying that for three years," Mr Domm said.
"They have got too much debt. They are able to service the interest on that debt but they can't fund depreciation.
"The crunch is going to come."
Eden Park Trust had "no comment to make on Mr Domm's views", chief executive David Kennedy said.
"[EPT] is on record as supporting the stadium strategy that has been developed by the RFA. This support has been continuously expressed at council meetings and in formal submissions.
"[EPT] remains the only major stadium in Auckland to meet all of its financial obligations (including all loan commitments), pay full rates, meet all operating costs and make a positive cash profit without any support from ratepayers," Mr Kennedy said.
"We continue to look forward to being the major sporting facility in the region and making a positive contribution to the wider Auckland community."
However, it appears a plan for the stadium to become the city's major sporting hub by hosting the Warriors, Blues, All Blacks, international cricket and major events such as the NRL Nines has effectively been scrapped.
A $30 million council plan to create boutique stadiums at Albany and Western Springs for league, cricket and concerts would likely mean events moving away from Eden Park, affecting the stadium's revenues.
"Our focus on Eden Park has come and gone when they decided they didn't want to be part of the integrated management model," Mr Domm said. "We are kicking on making a success of our three stadiums. We have turned a net loss-making operation into a profit-making operation in three years."
Eden Park's financial situation appears to have been a big factor in the decision not to upgrade Mt Smart, with the Warriors offered inducements to relocate to Albany.
"The solution is not to ... spend $70 million at Mt Smart because you have still got Eden Park that has got this problem," Mr Domm said.
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