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SkyCity convention centre bailout? NBR readers say no

Just before the Christmas break we were aghast to learn that SkyCity was looking to a government bailout after cost overruns with the National Convention Centre project.

It looks as though NBR readers agree with us.

An overwhelming number of NBR poll participants say the government should not pitch in $130 million for Sky City’s new convention centre.

The Auckland-based company increased building estimates for the centre, putting the cost between $470 million and $530 million.

The casino operator had previously estimated the centre would cost $402 million, which it had agreed to cover in return for extensions to its Auckland gaming licence.

The entire purpose of the SkyCity deal was that Auckland and New Zealand would gain a world class convention centre, paid for by SkyCity, in return for various regulatory concessions for the casino.

It was never suggested at the time that taxpayers or ratepayers would have to shoulder any of the burden. If SkyCity underestimated the cost of the centre when they signed the deal, that’s their financial problem and should not be borne by taxpayers.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says he expects the cost difference to be bridged through cost-cutting and in the procurement process, though would consider other funding options if needed.

"Any such options would not involve granting SkyCity more or different gambling concessions, or making further changes to any legislation that affects casinos or gambling," Joyce said.

It looks to us as though Minister Joyce is trying to warm up the public to the idea of gambling taxpayers’ money on the venture.

If that’s the case, we think he will be facing an up-hill battle!

NBR poll participants are strongly against the government forking out money to help SkyCity, with 86% of participants voicing their opposition to the idea. 


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