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Fears of cost jump in Eden Park Cup upgrade
Sunday November 04, 2007
By Jared Savage

The budget for Eden Park is believed to have blown out by up to $60 million before a hammer has even swung on the Rugby World Cup upgrade.

Plans for the $190 million redevelopment of the stadium have yet to be revealed but the Herald on Sunday understands the downscaled version could now cost up to $250 million.

The head of the Eden Park Redevelopment Board - which is responsible for finding the money - was tight-lipped over the claims, refusing to return phone messages last week.

Auckland Mayor John Banks believes the $250 million will be available to upgrade the stadium for 2011, despite his pledge to pull $30 million in council funds for the project.

"I'm bracing myself for quite a bit more expense. When things go quiet I get a bit nervous and I would be surprised if we could hold within the budgeted $190 million. I just think the Government should stump up some cash and give some certainty to the project."

Other council sources said the budget for the $190 million redevelopment was "creeping" up towards $230 million.

A source closely involved with the project said that it was almost inevitable costs would skyrocket because, despite the Government's opting for a cheaper version, the only design with resource consent was the $300 million-plus design. So any design, scaled down or not, would have to fall within those parameters.

Redevelopment Board chief executive Adam Feeley did not return the Herald on Sunday's calls.

Earlier last week he told the Independent Financial Review that the board was moving ahead on the basis of a $190 million budget and a main contractor would be appointed within weeks. Whether that contractor will be appointed via a tender process or after negotiations with a preferred supplier is not known but the latter scenario typically increases costs.

The construction timeline, with permanent stands completed by 2010 and additional temporary seating by 2011, was unchanged, Feeley told the paper.

John Alexander, chief executive of the Eden Park Trust Board, declined to comment, saying Feeley was the official spokesman for the redevelopment.

A spokeswoman for outgoing Sports Minister Trevor Mallard said last week that the Government had committed to only $190 million.

The speculation over a budget blowout is the latest in a series of hiccups since New Zealand won the RWC 2011 hosting rights over South Africa and Japan nearly two years ago.

The winning bid was based on the final being played at a 60,000-seat Eden Park, but Mallard announced plans for a $1 billion stadium on Auckland's waterfront last November.

Mallard then gave the two local authorities - Auckland City Council and the Auckland Regional Council - just two weeks to decide between the waterfront arena and Eden Park.

Despite the decision being split, the waterfront stadium plan was sunk because the ARC vetoed it. The regional council is a shareholder in the company which owns the Ports of Auckland land the waterfront option would have been built on.

Then, Mallard announced the Government would not pay for a $385 million "legacy" redevelopment of Eden Park, and instead committed to the $190 million upgrade as Eden Park was considered a regional rather than national stadium.

Since then, planning for Eden Park has been beset with problems as the Government and local authorities squabble over who should pay for what - thrown into further turmoil when newly elected mayor Banks announced last month that the council would cut $30 million in funding.