Download The Wellington App for more stories like this.

They’re not giving up on the arena

The extravagantly-unnecessary covered arena is still on the Wellington city council’s longterm wishlist, in spite of the fact that councillors have cancelled a year’s spending on developing it.

Councillors last week had another debate on cutting costs. Cutting a $500,000 spend on planning the arena turned out to be the only saving on which they could agree. Other ideas including cancelling the rebuild of Frank Kitts Park (another unnecessary council project) were defeated, in spite of new concerns about the need to find millions more dollars to strengthen or rebuild the Central Library.

The many reasons why the covered arena is a dubious project have been argued here and here. Most recently, they were constructively spelled out by Wellington blogger Conor Hill, who believes that the council is totally and completely wrong:

The council has $85million set aside in its long term plan to build a 12,000-seat arena. The council preference is to spend its money on building an arena for international artists, an arena so big that not a single Wellington act would be able to sell it out. This will not do anything at all to enhance Wellington’s local music scene.

If we have 85 million bucks to spend on live music, let’s try and spend this in a way that will build the local music scene.

First, the council could do party hire/permits. My inspiration for this is Whopper Chopper, the beachside parties of the early 2000s. A promoter would be able to get quick turnaround party permits for specific locations, and temporary food and drink permits … Mt Vic Quarry, underground in Wrights Hill Fortress, a few specific beaches. The council could rent a package including an awesome sound system, generator, toilets, water, a recycling station – it could also include security staff and a bar duty manager. If you and your musical mates saw the forecast for the weekend was going to be awesome, you could rock up to the council on the Wednesday, get the permit and gear, promote the hell out of the thing online, call up a food truck, and have the party on the Saturday. Good times, and only chump change compared to 85 million dollars.

Apart from that, there’s got to be other things we can do. We must be able to provide some support to smaller venues and recording studios, which are vital parts of the music scene … We could build a paint by numbers arena for Robbie Williams to return to endlessly, or we could work on ideas that allow Wellington to continue to build its own unique musical identity. Let’s do the Wellington one.

Conor Hill describes himself as a wannabe mayor. His website is: conorhillformayor.