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Bills flood in from torpedoed stadium
Friday February 09, 2007
By Paula Oliver

The price of Trevor Mallard's failed waterfront stadium dream is beginning to emerge as bills flow in from legal advisers and expert consultants who worked on the project.

In the first hint of how much money was spent on the ambitious idea, the office of the Rugby World Cup Minister yesterday revealed that $589,981.77 has so far been paid by the Ministry of Economic Development for consultant services in relation to the Auckland waterfront stadium.

In a separate disclosure, the Auckland City Council calculated that the total cost it incurred while choosing a preferred stadium site was $136,140.10.

The Auckland Regional Council put its costs at $73,785.65, but noted that most of the work was undertaken by its own staff.

Additional cost to ratepayers would come through "non-completion of other programmed work", the ARC said, adding that it has not yet calculated the cost of that.

Mr Mallard said yesterday he was "quite comfortable" with the spending.

"It was such a tiny proportion of the estimated $400 million cost of the project," he said.

"The Government needed the best independent expert advice that was available in order to make well-informed decisions about what was potentially a very big construction project for New Zealand."

Mr Mallard said the Government had ensured that the consultancy costs were in line with market rates.

Last November, when the waterfront option was eventually torpedoed, Mr Mallard said he doubted the final cost of the investigation would amount to millions.

But Act leader Rodney Hide yesterday said the interim figures were "shocking" enough on their own.

"Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard shot off on a complete tangent, spending taxpayers' money, sidelining the Resource Management Act, and now we get stuck with the bill," Mr Hide said.

It is still not known how much the Government will contribute to the redevelopment of Eden Park, and therefore what ratepayers might be called upon to pay.

A review of upgrade options for Eden Park is now being prepared for the Government by international stadium experts.

Temporary and permanent seating arrangements are being analysed, and the report is expected soon.