Currently undergoing a series of structural changes and redevelopments, Perth has been revelling in its city planning efforts. With plans underway for a complete overhaul of Perth’s waterfront in the Perth Waterfront Project and the recently unveiled Perth Stadium, the city’s initiatives have been surrounded by praise. This praise has, however, stopped short yesterday at the mentioned of the still-unfinished Perth Arena.
As with the waterfront project, the arena was designed by architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM). Beginning construction in 2008 the BGC, construction company owned by construction magnate Len Buckeridge, project has missed its Friday completion deadline, and is expected to pay excessively for this delay.
The $500 million project could face fines of up to $45,000 in late penalties per day that is over due if it is not completed by the final completion date of August 19. Mr. Buckeridge estimates that it will need at least a further year before completion. The state government owned arena is reported by Mr. Buckeridge as being a “nightmare” with a statement to the ABC saying that over “2000 design variations (had been made) since construction began”.
It is due to these factors that Mr. Buckeridge does not feel that he should be fined and will in fact refuse to pay up. He will in fact counterclaim $53 million due to what he sees as design related delays.
The Arena has been designed for multi-purpose use, with features such as a retractable roof and expanding seating space. A minimum capacity for 12,000 seats for sporting events and 14,000 for concerts was the initial starting point, with architects increasing this to approximately 13,500 for tennis spectators and nearly 15,500 for concert goers. The building is prophesised by ARM to bring approximately 25,000 extra people to the precinct annually.
The positive aspects of the Arena have not been enough for Mr. Buckeridge who has likened the design of the facility to a “squashed can”.
Adding insult to injury, initial costs for the project to be completed in for the 2009 Hopman Cup were at $160 million .While the blame is being thrown around (not surprisingly given the costs associated to ownership of the budget issues) between government parties and BGC, reports have shown that industry members as well as state government officials saw initial estimates by BGC as being undervalued.
Channel nine reported that Mr. Buckeridge has requested the royal commission look into the issue.