History Geek’s Opinion: Stadia

Regular ephemeral broadcasts will presume shortly, but after the relatively heavy topic of armoured warfare in third-world countries I feel that History Geek needs to take a brief swing into the realm of the slightly less serious.  So here is some history laced satire….

A little while ago I made my first trip to the local sports stadium – a venue that opened just before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.  It went ahead despite a fair bit of public opposition, predictably went over budget and even after hosting Elton John and the largest sporting event to take place in New Zealand in 25 years – it ran at a loss of 1.9 million dollars in its first six months.  It has generated some interesting debate over everything from generational debt to the role of professional sport in our society.

It got me thinking – what else could $224 million purchase?  Is a stadium the best asset or is there perhaps a less conventional facility that might bring in more profit for the ratepayers (or at least break even)?

At first I proposed my usual fantasy of turning the underutilized Dunedin waterfront and its large sheltered harbour into the world’s largest seaplane base.  I’ve long maintained that seaplanes are the international symbol for adventure – hence being Tintin’s preferred method of transportation and are highly recommended by both Biggles and Enid Blyton.  They don’t need an army of laborers to clear an airstrip in advance; they can land where no one has ever been before (as long as there is water).  If you want tourists to associate your city with adventure then a seaplane base is the obvious answer.  In practical terms the seaplanes could fly to and from Queenstown, Te Anau, Wanaka, Akaroa and could also rescue people from floods.

Then I started to think bigger and bolder – perhaps a budget that large could pay for a docking-tower, hanger and a fleet of intercontinental zeppelins.  Currently the only zeppelin-docking tower in the world in its original state is in Brazil – a fact that I’ve often been jealous of (Brazil has too many awesome things).  Imagine if zeppelin flights resumed but this time from Dunedin.  I had it all planned in my mind, right down to the first class menu design and Elton John performing Skyline Pigeon on the maiden flight.  However the sums didn’t quite add up – I suspect any endeavor with Zeppelins would need additional funding.

Then I read this article… about a Tyrannosaur skeleton that sold for only $1 million.  It made me wonder how much the standard T-Rex museum display costs.  I did a bit of searching and re-discovered this fantastic website.  For only US$100 000 you can get your very own full size replica of ‘Stan’, the most complete T. Rex ever found.  Stan is a deity in dinosaur circles – the kind of exhibit that Ross Geller would kill for.

With a budget of 224 million you could spend 20 million on a piece of land and 4 million on a generous amount of ferns and native New Zealand plants (which don’t look too out-of-place).  That would leave you with enough money to buy the grand total of 1500 full size T-Rex replicas!  Or if you wanted variety you could buy 750 T-Rex/Triceratops pairs.  It would be an attraction of Mesozoic proportions!  The only problem would be deciding what Elton John should play at the opening – Flintstone Boy, Crocodile Rock or High Flying Bird.

What testament to geekery would you build if you had $224 million of ratepayer funds at your disposal?

© Lemuel Lyes

WARNING:  This post includes a link to a very dangerous website.  It lures you in with an obviously unaffordable replica of a T-Rex skeleton but if you stay on the site for too long you WILL find something that you think you can nearly afford.  I recommend the site only in short doses and with your credit card well out of reach.

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