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Project head confident stadium can be finished in time for Cup
Saturday November 11, 2006
By Anne Gibson

Fletcher Construction says it is confident it can build Stadium New Zealand by the 2011 Rugby World Cup without the cost overruns and delays which have dogged Auckland's Vector Arena and London's Wembley Stadium.

The Fletcher Building subsidiary was yesterday named as the contractor to build the platform on Auckland's waterfront - the first stage in the construction of a $497 million, 60,000-seat stadium.

The Government says it strongly prefers the waterfront proposal ahead of upgrading Eden Park, but is inviting Aucklanders to indicate what they want.

Mark Binns, infrastructure chief executive and head of the country's largest builder, said the sort of financial losses and cost overruns experienced on Britain's $2.1 billion Wembley Stadium development by Australia's Multiplex would be avoided because Fletcher would be in territory it knew.

"We would not do a project like this outside our home turf and I can't emphasise the importance of our relationships with subcontractors, suppliers, and consulting engineers and designers."

Binns noted that Fletcher Construction only had the platform job at this stage. He said the entire job would provide a boon for the company. "But if we get all of it, our workload will double."

The company has orders of $700 million.

The announcement sent Fletcher Building shares to a record high of $10.10 yesterday.

Binns said the stadium job would be "fantastic" for the NZX-listed company.

If Auckland approves the project, construction will begin in May.

Fletcher would take 16 months to build the platform, he said. Around 1300 people would be employed at the height of the project, and suppliers and contractors who had worked closely with the firm had pledged support.

"They're already wanting to be part of the deal," Binns said.

He was confident the firm would not need to import specialists from Britain and South Africa, where Fletcher has sourced quantity surveyors, site managers and engineering specialists to meet the building boom.

Binns has already hand-picked the team to work on the project: Fletcher Construction general building manager Peter Neven; Alan Gray, the specialist project manager who worked on Te Papa and the Westpac Stadium in Wellington; and engineering division chief Graham Darlow.

Binns said the waterfront would be an easier site to work on than Eden Park, with 24-hour access, meaning certain jobs could be scheduled night and day.

Asked why Fletcher was not forced to tender for the platform work, Binns said it came down to one factor: "Timing - other firms could not tender for something like this in a week. It would take at least two months."

But he also said the job was big, even for the country's biggest builder.

"We've never built anything this fast before."

Major Fletcher Construction jobs:

* Wellington's Te Papa and Westpac Stadium.

* Auckland University's new business school.

* PricewaterhouseCooper's Tower on Auckland's waterfront.

* Sky City Convention Centre and Grand Hotel in Auckland.

* Second Tailrace Tunnel at Manapouri.

* Major roading projects for Transit including Auckland's Central Motorway Junction.