Stadium questions and answers

Got a question about the Stadium options? See if it's answered here.

Why have the public waited so long to see options and costings?

Complex engineering and geotechnical issues emerged from the closure of both the Stadium’s stands when they were found to be quake-prone. Specialists have needed time to assess and analyse the problems and potential solutions.  The Council has also needed to consult economic and financial analysts to satisfy ourselves that any preferred solutions are cost-effective, affordable and sustainable.  So a lot has been going on, and the work continues.

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Who built the Stadium? The Council?

The Stadium was originally developed by and built for the Taranaki Events Centre Trust, a private body set up for the specific purpose. The TRC provided funding support, as did NPDC a few years later. The Trust came under the control of the NPDC in 2003, and then the TRC took control of it in 2013 as part of arrangements to ensure maintenance and development was adequately funded into the future. The Trust is now called the Taranaki Stadium Trust, and the Stadium is operated by NPDC under a formal partnership agreement between the parties.

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Shouldn’t the original designers and builders be liable to meet the cost of fixing the stands? What about insurance?

The Taranaki Stadium Trust continues to investigate liability issues. The relevant legislation includes time limits on such claims. The prospects of financial compensation are unclear at best. It’s important to note that the stands have not been closed because of actual damage that has occurred, so there is no basis to claim damage insurance. The stands have been closed because they were found to be prone to severe damage in an earthquake, which would threaten the lives of spectators or workers using them at the time.

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Why does the Council prefer Option 2? Why is Option 4 a ‘potential’ preferred option?

Option 2 restores what previously existed, with updates to some of the facilities. It will cost up to $55m and the Council can afford to go it alone. So we can get started. However, should additional funding support become available within 18 months of work starting, we can switch to Option 4 because the initial step for both options is reinstating the West Stand.

Option 4 is a ‘potential’ preferred option because if funding challenges didn’t exist, it is likely to have been the Council’s first choice because it offers slightly better value and more opportunities for the future.

Another advantage is a ranked list of potential additional updates, which allows us leeway if the final cost of fixing the stands varies up or down from original estimates. We will get through as much of this list as possible at a cost of up to $55m.

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What are the extra benefits of Option 4?

Option 4 brings an expansion to the Legends Lounge, a new hospitality lounge on a mezzanine above the main concourse (effectively creating a new level 3), an ‘official’ main entry area to the stadium and improved access for patrons to the upper floors. Expanding the entertainment/hospitality area would considerably enhance the stadium’s value and attractiveness to the organisers of top-class sporting events and other types of events. The new and larger spaces to the East Stand, as well as additional seating provided in the premium areas (front of the East and West Stands) would make the stadium more attractive to event promoters because of the potential for them to increase ticket yields. 

For sports and entertainment events that take place on the pitch (e.g. Nitro Circus, a concert, NRL pre-season, A-League) it is expected that an additional 1 to 2 events per year could be secured. It could also be argued that Option 4 would provide a better chance of success of securing an All Blacks test match over Option 2.

The Option 4 additions will also make the venue more suitable for non-sporting functions – conferences, meetings, dinners, weddings, product launches and so on. It would take pressure off other urban New Plymouth venues such as TSB Stadium. BERL has assessed Option 4’s ratio of benefits to cost at 4.0, the best of all the options.

Expanding the capability and use of the Stadium would significantly increase its revenue, to the benefit of the operator (NPDC).

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Why is the TRC limited to $55m?

The Council has the ability to borrow up to $80m. But it would not be prudent to borrow to this limit and leave ourselves unable to respond to unforeseen issues in the future. As the Stadium issue illustrates, unexpected adverse events can and do occur.

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Who are the potential co-funders for Option 4?

We have been talking to local and national organisations that are of appropriate scale, and these conversations are continuing. We trust these parties will take note of the community’s reactions to the options we’re putting forward.

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If you move to Option 4, would rates go up to the level indicated in the table?

No. The TRC’s rates would remain at the Option 2 level to service a loan of up to $55m. The extra funding allowing us to move to Option 4 would come from elsewhere.

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What about repairing just one stand and demolishing the other? Wouldn’t that give us a useable venue at half the cost?

These ideas were investigated in considerable detail as possible variations of Option 2. They are simply not sensible ideas. The costs are not much different from Option 2, our preferred option, but would result in a Stadium with substantially reduced capacity and potential. Although each Stand has different issues (the West Stand’s relate to ground stability, the East Stand’s relate mainly to construction/engineering), the repairs in both cases are complex and the cost of each is about the same.

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Which options offer the best value for money?

Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL) were asked to assess the ratio of benefits to cost for the options. They found that Options 2 to 4 offer ratios ranging from 3.8 to 4, well ahead of Option 1 (demolition and grass banks) at 0.1. The ratio drops away for the more expensive options, ranging from 2.6 for Option 5 to 1.4 for Option 8 (new roofed stadium). The higher the ratio, the better the return.

See the BERL report on future options

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Has the Council considered a new Stadium at another location?

Yes. But land would need to be acquired. New resource consents would be needed, which may be a lengthy process if neighbouring land owners object. (Venue-related resource consents for the current site are in place, and there are good relationships and regular communications with neighbours). Also the Yarrow Stadium empowering legislation restricts the Council to the current site. An amendment or new legislation would be needed. As recent examples have shown, this can also be a lengthy process. Also, the cost would be in the order of $200m-plus.

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Why not just walk away? Don’t more and more people watch big sports events on TV at home, rather than venturing out into the weather?

The Council believes that essentially abandoning the Stadium would be a significant step backwards for the region’s economy and social cohesion. The BERL economic analysis confirms this view. Also, walking away would still involve a cost of $6m. And the owners and operators of other venues would face increased demand and expenses because the Stadium would no longer be suitable for many of the community/commercial events it has hosted. Also, the improvements included in Option 4 are in part designed to make Stadium events more attractive to the public, for example with extra food options and toilet facilities available.

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Why does the repair cost so much? It seems a lot of money.

That is the advice from a number of engineers and other specialists who have done a great deal of work assessing what is required. Although each Stand has different issues (the West Stand’s relate to ground stability, the East Stand’s relate mainly to construction/engineering), the repairs in both cases are complex and the cost of each is about the same.

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Who was involved in developing the repair options?

Three engineering consultancies – Tse Taranaki and Associates Ltd, Calibre Group and BCD Group – collaborated to develop and peer review the structural repair options. Elliot Architects prepared the master plans, and other specialist experts provided advice as required on geotechnical issues, stadium/venue design and other matters. Venue users, both sport and non-sport, were also consulted.

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What happens if costs blow out?

Having a ranked list of potential additional updates allows us leeway if the final cost of fixing the stands varies up or down from original estimates. We will get through as much of this list as possible at a cost of up to $55m. As with any project, actual costs will become clearer once we go to market in a tendering process. But before we do that, we need to formally adopt a proposal as part of our Annual Plan. The public consultation process is a necessary and important step towards this.

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Have you talked to the sports codes that use the Stadium? What about cricket?

Existing users including league, rugby and football have told us they are very keen for the Stadium to regain full operational capability so they and their followers can enjoy it as they did previously. We expect these organisations will also take advantage of the consultation process.

NZ Cricket has made it clear that it does not see the Stadium as a future venue for international fixtures. So it would not be viable to expand the pitch size in the hope of attracting international cricket matches.

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Were others who use the Stadium consulted as the options were being prepared?

Yes. This included accessibility specialists, police, security operators, broadcasters, sports codes and community user groups.

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Will it be one big contract for $55m?

No. The project would be made up of a number of elements.

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What are the next steps?

Consultation will run from 18 March to 23 April (the Tuesday after Easter). The Council will meet on 13-14 May to deliberate on the submissions, and to hear any submitters who want to put forward their case verbally. Decisions from this meeting will be fed into the Draft Annual Plan, which will be formally adopted at a meeting on 21 May. The 1919/2020 Annual Plan will become operative on 1 July.

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Assuming you go ahead with Option 2 or 4, when would site work begin?

By summer 2019/2020, all going well, after detailed design work has been completed, the building consenting process attended to and tenders let.

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Will the stadium have to be closed for all events during construction?

The aim is to stage the work so ground closure is not necessary. But temporary full closure may be necessary at some point.  This will become clearer as project details are finalised.

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When would we see big events return to Yarrow Stadium?

By summer 2022.

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