Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is expected to get a grilling from some councillors at a meeting this morning to discuss a $932,000 report for a national stadium in central Auckland.
At least two councillors are unhappy with the mayor for only giving them a redacted version of the pre-feasibility report, prepared by the consultancy firm PwC for the mayor through the council's regional facilities arm.
Goff, who called for the report after being elected in October 2016, has used its findings to discuss plans for a new national stadium in downtown Auckland with Sports Minister Grant Robertson.
He told the Herald on Friday a downtown stadium could be configured for Super Rugby and NRL matches, test matches, and large concerts at a cost of between $1.1 billion and $1.5b.
Writing on Facebook this morning, councillor Cathy Casey said the PwC report was unknown to the 20 elected councillors until a redacted version was made available by the Ombudsman to the Herald and RNZ.
"A hastily convened [and poorly attended] briefing session for councillors with the mayor and Regional Facilities Auckland was held at the end of the day on Wednesday and another one is scheduled for 8.30am this morning.
"To add insult to injury, councillors have been sent the redacted copy of the report. Looks like I may have to contact the Ombudsman as well!" Casey said.
Councillor John Watson said Goff had been sitting on the report for quite a while and councillors who attended last Wednesday's briefing were only given a redacted copy.
He said some councillors had asked to see a full copy of the report and were refused it.
Watson said he and councillor Wayne Walker were allowed to read the full report under the watch of mayoral staff, but not allowed to copy it or take it away.
"It's pretty insulting behaviour. PwC are paid nearly $1 million for this and we are not allowed to have a full copy and reflect on it," Watson said.
He said he had seen the six unidentified sites for a new downtown stadium and while he could not name them, "a number identified for study are so unsuitable they could and should have been dismissed without any investigation being required".
A mayoral spokesman said Goff was about to go into the briefing and unavailable to talk to the Herald.
"Councillors have been offered an opportunity to view an unredacted copy of the PwC report whenever they want.
"This approach appeared to be viewed favourably in the briefing last week," the spokesman said.
Watson questioned the value of the PwC report, which is in two parts totalling 105 pages, or just under $9000 per page, he said.
He said the reports lacked analysis on recent investment in the city's stadiums to get them up to international standard and noted Local Boards' submissions to the new 10-year budget highlighted the poor state of suburban sports grounds.
"So $1.5b for a grandiose stadium but precious little for suburban Auckland communities struggling to cope with their sporting needs," Watson said.
Responding to Casey's Facebook posting, Howick Local Board member David
Collings said "I'm getting sick and tired saving pennies at the coal face when there's a burning of millions going on at HQ".
"And we are expected to tolerate land in our local area being sold off just to keep the flames fueling," Collings said.
Councillor Mike Lee said the report might explain why Goff was keen to remove a view shaft protecting the views of the old Dilworth Tce houses in Parnell from The Strand.
Goff has previously expressed a preference for a downtown stadium on railway land alongside Spark Arena. The land has an 18m height limit and protected viewshafts to the Auckland Museum and Parnell.
The PwC report said a national football stadium "would bring tremendous economic and social benefits to Auckland and New Zealand", including environmentally sustainable design and operating solutions, major events attracting local residents and visitors and significant job creation.
Large scale stadiums require considerable investment but are "highly unlikely to be able to generate returns that can cover the cost of securing that capital", the report said.
It floated the idea of a private-public partnership to attract investment, but noted "any investment from the private sector will require a return on investment".
Goff said on Friday he had been approached by a private sector, New Zealand-based consortium to put up money, which could allow a stadium to be built within five to seven years.
The proceeds from selling Eden Park could be used to help fund a national stadium. The PwC report gave some idea of the net value of Eden Park, Goff said.
Planning committee chairman Chris Darby, who backs the idea of starting to plan now for a possible national stadium, acknowledged there had been "unfettered opposition and zealous enthusiasm".
"To put the record straight, and probably disappoint both camps, Auckland Council has no intention of charging ahead and building what could be a new $1.5b stadium," he said, adding Goff had noted the council has other priorities, most notably addressing the housing crisis and public transport challenges.
"We are just about to strike the budget for the next 10 years and I can assure you not a single dollar for building a new city-centre stadium is in the mix," Darby said.