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Mayor digs in: City won't put money into upgrade
5:00AM Tuesday December 18, 2007

Auckland ratepayers' cash is more likely to go towards cleaning the city beaches for Rugby World Cup visitors in 2011 than on the main cup venue itself.

The Government and the Eden Park Trust Board on Sunday confirmed Eden Park would have a $240.5 million revamp for the 2011 event.

About $212 million in funding has already been confirmed - $190 million from the Government, $10 million from New Zealand Rugby Union and $12 million from the Eden Park Trust Board - but Auckland Mayor John Banks said the council would not put any money in.

Mr Banks said ratepayers who elected him this year said they didn't want their money going into the stadium itself.

"The project is $240 million plus $20 million that the Auckland City Council has promised for economic infrastructure outside the stadium, which means that we're still $28 million short," he said.

"But it is not my project, it does not belong to me. It is in Auckland city, I would like to see it funded and I'm doing all I can, but my constituent ratepayers have said yes to $20 million and yes to the spend outside the stadium.

"I respect the views of the voters and they have told me in no uncertain terms how they feel about the upgrade of Eden Park."

Mr Banks said he hoped Auckland Regional Council, which has already promised money for upgrading public transport for the World Cup, would find some money for the stadium.

"I would be hopeful that the ARC could see their way clear to put in $20 million or $22 million, but the ARC of course are entitled to their own views on these things."

In addition to the investment in and around Eden Park, Mr Banks said a great deal of money needed to be spent on improving the city for tourists coming out to the tournament.

"For example, we've got to clean up the beaches of raw sewage. That's a huge and expensive challenge," he said.

"We can't have international visitors coming here and swimming in sewage on the eastern bays beaches."

Mr Banks said that hosting the tournament "is going to be the most expensive infrastructure project undertaken in this city ever".

"It should benefit the city but we have to be very careful that we don't saddle Eden Park with a debt profile that is not manageable."

If the regional council doesn't front up with the money, Mr Banks said he was confident Eden Park management would find a way to source the extra $28 million.

Mr Banks has been searching for ways to cut council spending since his election earlier this year.

- NZPA