Who should pay the piper?

Recent news confirming $474million funding for the new roofed Canterbury Stadium, together with a commitment for early commencement, are welcome and tangible signals of progress for this long awaited facility.

 Within these announcements, both Government and Christchurch City Council emphasised that completion of an agreed Stadium business case was the next step, ahead of the release of funding. Both parties have also committed to collaborative, broad-based engagement with all stakeholders as part of both the business case development, and the final planning details.

The Committee for Canterbury concurs with all of these developments, and urges both the Crown and City to note the following three points that we believe should under-pin the business case.

Firstly, at this early stakeholder engagement phase, all parties should strive to ensure that the Canterbury Stadium itself is genuinely designed to achieve the widest possible multi use applications. Genuine multi- use is far more than simply rugby and concerts.     

Secondly, the planned facility cost should reflect an intensely robust, diligent and prudent approach, to ensure that maximum value is extracted from the budget funds available, for reasons of total cost responsibility and to minimise ongoing depreciation and operating costs.

Thirdly, the operating model (which includes depreciation, and therefore is of the greatest interest to ratepayers) should be built on an expansive base, rather than a narrow or business as usual approach.

One example of this expansive approach would be for Canterbury’s mayoral leaders and councils to draw together and to lead their respective communities to support some form of regional rate for the Stadium, contributing to the Stadium’s operating income.  The Canterbury Museum rate that Selwyn, Waimakariri and Hurunui District Councils contribute today is an example of what is possible. The 1993 Canterbury Museum Trust Board Act recognises that Canterbury Museum is a “regional” facility and defined the rating base accordingly. The Committee for Canterbury believes that the planned Stadium is just as much (if not more so) a regional asset, and should be funded as such.

Whilst the Museum rating model as set by Crown legislation may be unique, it still sets a precedent for an even wider example that could be applied for the Stadium, from at least Waimate to Hurunui, assuming an expansive, Canterbury wide approach.

Yes, this proposal may be controversial, but the alternatives may be even more so if the region’s leaders do not engage and draw in the whole Canterbury region. If the operating costs of the Stadium are met entirely by the City, how would the balance of Canterbury feel about Christchurch residents having preferential ticket allocations for major games and events? Or maybe differential pricing, with lower ticket prices for Christchurch City residents? 

Now is very much the time for Cantabrians to stand together, shoulder to shoulder as we did on the Lancaster Park embankments, face up to the reality and the responsibility that this is Canterbury’s stadium.

For further information:

Garry Jackson

Chief Executive

Committee for Canterbury

garryjackson@committeeforcanterbury.co.nz

0274855335

(Committee for Canterbury is an independent, apolitical strategy group working to shape the long term social, cultural, environmental and economic prosperity of Canterbury)