Monday, 14 May 2012

Stadiamania

The results are in! The Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin ended up with a cost overrun of $8.4m, or a 4.2% increase over budget. This is, as I have mentioned before, hardly surprising given the national and international experience. Some prominent examples include the Hamilton County, Ohio stadiums for Cincinnati's Bengals and Reds teams, Australian facilities in Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney, and domestic facilities including Waikato Stadium (this link to an excellent post by the late Roger Kerr - although I'm not entirely sold on the initial Westpac Stadium figures) and North Harbour Stadium (best link I could find - requires subscription).

Cost overruns have a further cost which councillors in Dunedin are now grappling with - the opportunity cost. Money needs to be found somewhere - and it is often to the detriment of other projects which also require funding from the public purse. These costs are not minor and should not be downplayed. After all, if impacts have a multiplier effect, so too do costs.

And now, in amongst all of this, the Warriors want a new stadium in Auckland. On the waterfront. With a roof. And a cost of $300m. And claims that $100 of the cost will come from the corporate sector, with the rest from local and central government.

This, from Warriors chairman Bill Wavish:
"Before the world cup, they made a decision to build a stadium in Dunedin, which has a population of fewer than 100,000 people. But there are 1.5 million people in Auckland and they don't deserve a new stadium?

"The view is that they made a mistake to spend all that money on Eden Park and now the opportunity has passed. At some point in time, we need to face up to that and build a stadium." 
Have I heard something similar before? Lessons need to be learnt. Some lessons, however, seem to feel the need to be learnt again, and again, and again.

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