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In November 2005, New Zealand won the right to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The victory came with responsibilities, including the need to provide world-class stadiums.
Dunedin's Carisbrook Stadium wasn't up to scratch, so the Dunedin City Council (DCC) and Otago Regional Council (ORC) were exploring options for its upgrade or replacement. Initial public consultation indicated support for an upgraded Carisbrook over a new stadium.
Then an independent group – the Carisbrook Stadium Charitable Trust (the Trust) – was set up to continue investigations. Its chairperson was a prominent Dunedin businessman. The Trust recommended a new multi-purpose stadium, with DCC footing almost half the bill – $91 million.
Public consultation on the proposed stadium took place – though some said not enough – revealing divergent opinions. The biggest sticking point was ratepayer funding of the stadium.
The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) inquired into the matter because of the amount that ratepayers might need to pay. It found that DCC and ORC had so far been meeting best-practice guidelines for funding non-government organisations.
Despite opponents protesting and taking out court action, DCC went ahead with the new stadium. The council believed it would provide the greatest long-term economic and social benefits for the region.