The Auckland Council has bailed out Eden Park to the tune of $63 million, and nearly $10m of that is a brand-new, no-strings grant.
Mayor Phil Goff supported a proposal from officials that the extra money, totalling $9.8m, be a no-interest loan, secured against the Eden Park assets. But by a vote of 12-10, councillors preferred the option of a grant.
Goff later told the Herald he believes councillors were wrong to give the Eden Park Trust Board a grant, partly because it is unsecured and partly because he believes it sets a bad precedent for the park.
"You can basically guarantee that Eden Park will be back for more, because why wouldn't they? That's free money we've just given them."
The issue arose because Eden Park has a $40m loan due to ASB Bank, as well as a $7m credit facility. The trust cannot repay the loan, and under the terms of its deed the council was obliged to take it over. In addition, the council has a pre-existing $6.5m loan to the trust.
The council has agreed to consolidate all those monies and create a new loan to the trust, worth $53.5m, that will be interest-bearing.
There was no dispute among councillors over the need to take over the major loan and credit facility. All councillors made a point in their speeches of saying how valuable Eden Park is and how important it was to keep it running, at least for the next 10 years.
But there was a long and extremely fraught debate about the trust's request for an extra $.9.8m, which will be used over three years to pay for basic maintenance and renovations.
Replacing the turf on the main ground will cost nearly $2m, for example, and roof replacement and other work on the north stand will cost nearly $3m.