The cost of building the $41 million TECT Arena at Baypark was increased by nearly half a million dollars on Monday – but it’s still under budget.

The money comprises fit out, furnishing and equipment costs taken out when it looked like the project might exceed budget.

Volleyball is one of the popular sports at TECT Arena at Baypark.

Volleyball is one of the popular sports at TECT Arena at Baypark.

After an earlier meeting, arena operator, the council controlled organisation, Tauranga City Venues Ltd came back with a prioritised list for Tauranga City Councillors.

Two of the three categories were approved, leaving $72,500 that can be dealt with by other management options.

The costs for items for which a business case was presented are $133,000 to be spent on carpet tiles, $50,000 on a plate up zone, a $37,000 scissor lift, $30,000 event screens and a $20,000 food transporter.

Councillors also approved $90,000 for the foyer air conditioning, and $10,500 for café furniture.

“My understanding is that these items were provided for in the original budget costs for TECT Arena,” says TCVL director Graeme Elvin.

“To ensure the project did come in under budget and there was no financial risk to council these items were removed. 

“The budget has been brought in considerably below the original estimates, and these items our organisation believes, to varying degrees, are significantly important.

“Had there been more consultation at the time there might have been other items that we would have preferred to have been removed from this budget.  

“I think we just need to be aware of some of those interfaces from time to time.”
TCVL CEO Ervin McSweeney wasn’t able to attend Monday’s meeting because he is in Wellington commentating the cricket. “I thought it would be all over in four days, but I didn’t account for the Wellington weather,” says Graeme.

Larry Baldock moved the money be paid out including the air conditioning and the café furniture. “We want that centre to function at max getting good reviews, I think if these items are left out it will start to impact on peoples’ experience over there.”

Project manager Howard Severinsen says the foyer air conditioning was cut at a point when there was some budget uncertainty and they didn’t know if they would be able to afford it. “We took the decision knowing the space was there, the pipes were there and the electrical connections were there,” says Howard.

“Part of it was not knowing how successful the catering and use of the foyer might be.”
The arena foyer is proving to be a popular after match venue for stadium games, says Graeme. “I think as we move forward it’s going to be a pretty good social space, other than a thoroughfare.”

Catherine Stewart and Tony Christiansen gave reluctant support. “I do understand it was provided for in initial prices,” says Tony.

Bill Grainger opposed it, and says the line has to be drawn somewhere. “Central government is applying pressure on us, the community out there keep telling us, ‘we tighten our belts, are you tightening yours’? You mentioned a while back that you were given a dog. When I look at it now, that dog’s been groomed, well fed – I expect it to run like a greyhound.”

Mayor Stuart Crosby says it’s ironic that the same government that forced $100 million in costs on local government through the Rugby World Cup, has the gall to say local government spends too much on non-essential infrastructure. “They need to make up their mind, if they can, on what they want out of local government,” says Stuart.

“This is the same government that said we should spend more on capital expenditure, then came back and said we carried too much debt. I hope somebody actually takes the time and effort to understand what local government really does, before they try and fix us.”

Stuart’s been through three local government reforms and every one and he says they all added costs.