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RISING COST OF STADIUM.

Sporting events and concerts at the Millennium Stadium have cost taxpayers almost pounds 340,000 in a year.

An Echo investigation into Cardiff council's accounts for 2003 to 2004 has revealed how much cash is spent on providing matchday and gig services.

Just under pounds 337,000 was taken out of council coffers during the financial year to pay for the city's park and ride schemes, road closures and traffic signs when high-profile sporting and musical events were held at the stadium.

Of that, pounds 98,561 went on cleaning city centre streets and pavements either side of matches and concerts.

During the financial year, the Millennium Stadium staged the 2003 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Southampton, two LDV Trophy finals, three Nationwide League play-off finals and the 2004 Worthington Cup final between Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers.

It was also the venue for four international football matches and six Wales rugby internationals, as well as a Christmas concert by Welsh rockers The Stereophonics.

The total spent - pounds 336,077 - is pounds 46,000 more than in 2002/2003, with the city's bars, hotels and restaurants, rather than the council, reaping the financial benefits from the wallets of thousands of people who flocked to Cardiff for the games and gigs. Matches organised by the Welsh Rugby Union accounted for the largest chunk of cash, costing the council almost pounds 100,000 - more than pounds 64,000 up on the previous year.

But city centre manager Paul Williams says the money spent on matchday services is necessary to maintain and enhance Cardiff's reputation, and the stadium is good news for the city's residents.

'It generates massive amounts of revenue, and although there is some negative impact on retailers, you are gaining a lot and losing a little,' he said.

'These services are necessary, as not providing them would have safety implications and create a poor impression of Cardiff.' WHAT EVENTS COST CITY: (2002-2003 financial year totals in brackets) LDV Trophy Final 2003: pounds 33,144.78 (pounds 32,028) FA Cup Final 2003: pounds 26,993.89 (pounds 76,138) Nationwide League Play-Offs 2003: pounds 71,290.98 (pounds 30,354) Community Shield 2003: pounds 24,581.33 (pounds 92,532) Speedway Grand Prix 2003: pounds 4,398.73 (no 2002-2003 comparison) Welsh Rugby Union games 2003-2004: pounds 98,977.74 (pounds 24,308) Football Association of Wales games 2003-2004: pounds 27,253.21 (pounds 10,544) Concerts 2003-2004: pounds 6,647.56 (pounds 24,063) Worthington Cup Final 2004: pounds 29,407.04 (no 2002-2003 comparison) LDV Trophy Final 2004: pounds 13,469.57 (no 2002-2003 comparison) TOTAL: pounds 336,164.83 (pounds 290,214). YOUR VIEWS: 'It's a very good thing. Even if they put 20p extra on every pint for policing for these events, that's a good thing.'

Peter Jones, 59, a flower seller, from: St. Mellons, Cardiff.

'It's a lot of money. Spending it on cleaning the streets of Cardiff would be better, the town is filthy.'

Paul Eveleigh, 27, a bus driver, from Barry.

'It's good and bad, but the money could be better spent on things for the community, like fixing the roads.'

Amanda Key, 22, a checkout operator, from Llantrisant.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 25, 2005
Words:536
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