ILT Stadium Southland boss Alan Dennis says it would be an absolute disaster for the city if the Invercargill City Council opts not to increase its annual funding for the venue.
The Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust board, which owns the indoor venue, last year revealed it could not maintain the standard of the complex and the same level of operations under the current funding model.
The Southland community subsidises its operation by just over $1 million each year.
Of that $1m, the Invercargill Licensing Trust and Invercargill City Council (ICC) stump up $400,000 in grants annually, while the Community Trust of Southland (CTOS) and Southland District Council have made up the remainder.
The ILT and CTOS have both agreed to increase their annual funding, but the ICC’s contribution still remains up in the air.
The ICC is calling on the public to make submissions on their 2018-19 long-term plan and included in the consultation document are three options for future ILT Stadium Southland funding.
The options are: Stick with the current level of funding; increase it by $150,000; or agree to the extra $300,000 which the stadium officials are searching for.
The preferred option was for the annual funding to not increase.
That would ensure there was no financial impact on Invercargill ratepayers, but the document said “stadium users may experience a lower level of service” as a result of not agreeing to boost funding.
Mr Dennis, who is the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust chairman, believed there could be “horrific” consequences if the ICC was to stick with that option.
Opening hours at the venue would need to be cut back and the general presentation of the stadium would suffer immensely, he said.
“Do we just open five days a week?”
The stadium board previously had been able to put $300,000 aside each year for when maintenance work was required.
However costs at ILT Stadium Southland, which includes the SIT Velodrome, have increased since the rebuild in 2014 and the board is now not in a position to build those reserves.
Mr Dennis said the board would provide councillors with all the information needed, through the submission process, to ensure they were aware just what impact it would have on the community if funding was not increased.
It will include providing councillors with an independent review which was conducted last year by Jeremy Curragh, of Crowe Horwath, with the assistance of Richard Hutchinson, from the Global Leisure Group.
Mr Dennis said the review indicated the venue was run “very efficiently” and showed there was little room for financial cutbacks to help meet the shortfall.
Mr Dennis felt with the input of the ILT and CTOS, Invercargill ratepayers actually “got off lightly” compared with what other councils in New Zealand stumped up to fund their stadiums.
The request for $700,000 a year was a third of the $2.1m ratepayers put into the Invercargill Public Library annually, Mr Dennis said.
He believed ILT Stadium Southland was just as important for the city.
“I’m not against the library, but I think what the stadium brings to the city, as far as events and community benefits, is very important.”
ILT Stadium Southland attracted between 12,000 and 15,000 paying users each week, Mr Dennis said.
Submissions on the ICC’s long-term consultation document close on Friday, April 20.
ICC’s stadium funding options
Option One:Continue to fund the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust at current levels of funding ($400,000 grant + $132,140 loan servicing). Total annual funding $532,140.
There would be no extra cost for Invercargill ratepayers in 2018-19.
Option Two: Increase funding to the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust by $300,000 and also continue the $132,140 loan servicing. Total annual funding $832,140.
There would be an increase of $11.82 a year for Invercargill ratepayers.
Option Three:Increase funding to the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust by $150,000 and also continue the $132,140 loan servicing. Total annual funding $682,140.
There would be an increase of $5.91 a year for Invercargill ratepayers.