Claudelands centre could cost more than V8 blowout


Financial shortfalls at the new Claudelands Events Centre threaten to make Hamilton's V8 $40million fiasco look like a bargain.

Public outrage at the V8 blowout could be repeated over events centre costs which could amount to $10million a year.

Net revenue for the current year totals $1.8million with an operating expenditure of $3.22million to show an operating deficit of $1.42million.

Information requested by Hamilton Citizens and Ratepayer Association president John Easto reveals annual base costs - termed asset related charges - now total $8.225million. That covers interest ($4.48 million), depreciation ($3.106million) and maintenance ($639,000).

Mr Easto, who says final costs of the centre have not yet been finalised because of issues with air conditioning, roofing and carparks, calls the project 'an embarrassing white elephant'.

"If the economic climate remains the same, the outlook for Claudelands is grim. In five years it could do more damage to Hamilton City's finances than the V8 racing.

"First we had the Waikato Stadium, built on debt and costing more than $3million a year to keep the doors open; then we had the V8s and now we have the tragedy of a $72million facility losing money hand over fist - it all adds up to more financial heartache for Hamilton ratepayers."

Mr Easto says ratepayers are stuck with the facilities - it's not like a hotel which you can sell. "Who would buy into these losses?"

City Councillor Roger Hennebry, who voted against building the events centre, is disappointed council has this year cut community spending to the bone to save $15million to see most of the savings go in covering a debt.

"The council will have to find ways to turn the situation around or we could be looking at a $200million loss in the next 20 years.

"Claudelands' financial plan never stacked up and now we are facing the hard truth."

Cr Ewan Wilson, who was not on council when the centre was planned, says no-one is coming up smelling of roses over the issue.

"Reports show figures used to justify the centre were innacurate and inflated.

Cr Wilson says the council's task is to overcome the significant tragedy.

"We can't undo it. We must assume the mantle of making it work to lessen the burden faced by ratepayers facing ongoing charges."

- Hamilton News

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