Auckland Council discussing $50 million bail out of Eden Park

Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thursday, 14 March 2019, 4:11PM
The meeting is being held behind closed doors. (Photo / NZ Herald)
The meeting is being held behind closed doors. (Photo / NZ Herald)

A $50 million bailout of Eden Park is being discussed by Auckland councillors at a confidential workshop today.

Faced with mounting financial pressure and no money for maintenance, the city's premier stadium is pleading for $100m from ratepayers to stay in business and continue to host All Black tests and major events.

A leaked document shows councillors are being presented with two proposals for Eden Park worth about $50m which will be voted on at a finance and performance committee next week.

The first proposal is for the council to take over a $40 million loan between Eden Park Trust and ASB bank, together with another council loan of about $6m, with interest charged to the trust at commercial rates.

The second proposal is to provide $9.8m on interest-free terms to the trust, which can draw down on it over three years from July this year for maintenance work on things like a new turf, floodlights and giant video screens.

The money will be secured by council and repaid in the event Eden Park assets are sold.

A report done by consultants EY for council late last year paints a bleak financial outlook for Eden Park, saying revenue is falling and there is no money for $64m of maintenance over the next decade.

It faces losses of $80m over the next decade, EY said.

The proposal, which council sources refer to as a bailout, comes at a difficult time for the cash-strapped council.

The council's regional facilities arm has its hand out for tens of millions of dollars for the latest version of a stadium strategy, including $91m for a new cricket oval at Western Springs.

Regional Facilities Auckland is expected to announce a short extension for speedway staying at Western Springs, delaying a start on the cricket oval.

A bigger concern for council is a possible price increase of $500m to $1b for the $3.4b City Rail Link when tenders for the main contract are unveiled in May. Council and the Government are paying half shares in the project that will double capacity on the city's rail network.

A funding request to Auckland Mayor Phil Goff from Eden Park for $1.5m to replace its deteriorating playing surface laid in 2003 sparked broader discussions on financial matters related to the park.

Goff has told the Herald Eden Park's financial position is not sustainable and indicated a willingness to help in a way that protects ratepayers' interest, including a commercial rate of return on the $40m loan.

A poll by UMR Market Research shows just 23 per cent of Aucklanders are in favour of ratepayers providing funding to Eden Park for it to stay open with 55 per cent opposed.

The poll also found 69 per cent of Aucklanders believed money paid to Eden Park should be in the form of a loan that is repaid. Just 14 per cent were okay with a grant that does not have to be repaid.

The Herald has obtained a copy of the poll with the client's name missing.


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