Eden Park bailout won't cost ratepayers - Phil Goff

News 15/03/2019

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is promising ratepayers will "get back every dollar" the council puts into bailing out Eden Park, if it chooses to throw the ailing stadium a lifeline.

Ten years ago the Eden Park Trust board got a loan worth tens of millions of dollars from ASB Bank, guaranteed by the then-Auckland City Council.

"That loan comes up for renewal in September this year - Eden Park can't repay it," Goff told The AM Show on Friday.

Instead the council is looking likely to take on the $40 million debt itself, and according to Newstalk ZB loan the park another $6 million - but Goff says ratepayers won't be left worse off.

"Auckland City, the predecessor to Auckland Council today, put that guarantee in place and we're bound by it. It's totally binding. We'll have to take over that loan and other loans that they already have with us, but that will be commercial rates.

"In other words, we will recover the cost of our borrowing to advance the money to them, plus any costs of administration."

He said that was his personal view, not necessarily that of Auckland Council.

"I'm looking at a loan that would be guaranteed against the future sale of the land. If the trust board decides to sell Eden Park in eight years' time, the Auckland ratepayer should get back every dollar they put into it."

An Ernst & Young report last year said Eden Park was set to lose $80 million over the next decade if the status quo continues. Efforts to get more events held at the cash-strapped venue are regularly scrapped due to local opposition.

"Under the Unitary Plan they're entitled to have up to six concerts a year," said Goff.

But when was the last time Eden Park held a concert? Elton John promoter Michael Chugg told Newshub in February he never considers the central Auckland venue because "the people that live around Eden Park make sure no one gets in there".

"It sucks for the city when you've got a venue like that and you can't use it."

Goff said every time the venue's booked for noisy events "there can be complaints about that, people put in submissions and it ends up a very costly process". One of those opponents is his former boss, Helen Clark.

But he said as Mayor, he can't be seen to favour one side of the debate or the other.

"I've talked to people who say, 'Look Phil, we'd love to have concerts.' And there are a people there who say, 'Nah - we don't want a bar of it.' … If I predetermine an outcome or am seen to predetermine an outcome, I'm in trouble… I'm the Mayor. I'm part of the regulatory authority, and you won't get any answer from me but to say that matter will be something for the Environment Court to determine."