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$2m stadium loan will 'buy the council time'

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$2m stadium loan will ‘buy the council time’

LOIS CAIRNS

Last updated 12:53 25/09/2014

Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ

BREAKING EVEN: Without a $2m loan, the AMI Stadium maybe forced to close – potentially leaving Christchurch without a stadium for professional sport.

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How long the temporary rugby stadium at Addington remains in play rests on the outcome of negotiations between the Government and the city council, says Christchurch Stadium Trust chairman Jim Anderton.

Anderton fronted up to the Christchurch City Council this morning to plead for a $2 million loan.

The cash is needed so the trust, which administers the stadium, can buy rather than lease the stadium’s tiered seating.

Buying the seating will save the trust around $700,000 a year, money it can then use to upgrade and improve the stadium so it can remain in use beyond 2017.

Without the loan the stadium maybe forced to close – potentially leaving Christchurch without a stadium for professional sport – as it is only breaking even and there is no spare cash to pay for work needed to extend the life of the stadium.

“You have to decide whether you want a stadium there after 2017 and if you do, then some assistance is going to be required,” Anderton told councillors.

It was planned that Christchurch would have a new permanent stadium by 2017, as outlined in the central city recovery blueprint, but the scheduled date for completion has now been pushed out to 2019.

That date may be delayed further due to financial challenges facing the council, but that will depend on the outcome of negotiations between the council and the Government.

The Christchurch Stadium Trust is working on the premise the stadium may be needed until 2022.

In a hint that it may be required even beyond that date, Mayor Lianne Dalziel asked Anderton whether the trust would be in a position to repay the council’s loan in December 2022 even if the temporary stadium was still being used.

“Yes, we believe we can do that,” Anderton assured her.

Under the terms of the loan approved by the council, the trust will pay back a minimum of 60 per cent of the $2m borrowed ($1.2m) by December 2022. How much of the remaining balance the trust will pay back will depend on the value of the assets it holds at the time it is wound up.

Council chief financial officer Peter Gudsell said by giving the trust a loan the council was ensuring it had options when it came to negotiating the timing for the new stadium.

“This gives us options,” Gudsell said.

Deputy mayor Vicki Buck said it was “absolutely logical and sensible” to loan the money to the trust, while Cr Yani Johanson said it would buy the council time.

“The sooner we do this, the greater leverage we can have around the timing of the major new stadium,” said Johanson, adding he believed the council should be pushing the delivery of the new stadium out until 2025.

Cr David East said any suggestion that the temporary stadium would be needed beyond 2022 was not appropriate at this time.

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– The Press

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