Home About the Association Become a Member Register for Newsletters/Updates Contact Us
Tell a Neighbour/Friend
Community Links
Association Rules
Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions
Money on Banks to win Eden Park fight
Tuesday October 16, 2007
By Bernard Orsman

Auckland City Mayor John Banks' promise to pull ratepayer funding for Eden Park will win the day, says outgoing Citizens & Ratepayers leader Scott Milne.

His comments are at odds with Prime Minister Helen Clark, who yesterday suggested continuity on the council and ongoing talks with the Government and rugby interests could lead to a different outcome.

Mr Banks had only been back in his old job for five minutes when he criticised the outgoing council for committing $50 million to the 2011 rugby World Cup.

This included at least $21 million for a $190 million upgrade of Eden Park and writing off $9 million the Eden Park Trust Board owed to the council.

"I would be prepared to commit ratepayers' money to economic infrastructure around the precincts of Eden Park and leave the funding of the grandstand upgrades inside Eden Park to the cash-rich Government and the rich and powerful Rugby Union," Mr Banks said.

Helen Clark said that in due course the Government and rugby interests would talk with the new council about decisions taken by the previous one.

In the meantime, "we should let the dust settle on this".

Last night, Mr Banks said he accepted the conciliatory approach and looked forward to discussions with the Government.

"But that should not be interpreted with me going soft about where the costs should fall.

"I have been open and honest about my position on this for a number of weeks and people voted in anticipation I would not welsh on a handful of promises I made. I'm not going to welsh on day one or day 10," Mr Banks said.

Mr Milne said the new C&R council, which won 11 of the 19 council seats, was very keen to work with Mr Banks and would be listening to his reasons for not funding Eden Park.

"There are a number of very strong arguments and at this stage I would expect him to win the day," he said.

Mr Milne said C&R had taken flak for supporting the council's funding package for the cup. C&R also voted last year to increase the budget for international facilities to $100 million.

First-term C&R councillor and Auckland Rugby Union chairman Ken Baguley said there was a case for ratepayers' money going to the upgrade.

The cup is forecast to generate $507 million for the economy, of which $240 million will flow into Auckland.

An economic impact study by Covec found that the two Lions games at Eden Park in 2005 generated more than $43 million for Auckland.

A Herald-DigiPoll survey last month found 51.5 per cent of people in Auckland City supported rates money being used for upgrading Eden Park, compared with 45.5 per cent against.

One of the conditions of the Auckland City funding package was an equal sum from the Auckland Regional Council.

ARC chairman Mike Lee said Mr Banks had every right to make his comments. He said the new regional council had yet to be sworn in and would consider a contribution towards Eden Park in due course.