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VANOC contingency fund running dry

VANCOUVER - The 2010 Winter Olympic organizing committee has almost drained its rainy day fund because of cost overruns at Vancouver's Olympic Stadium.

The quarterly report for February through April 2009, released Tuesday, said $8.3 million was shifted from the construction contingency fund to B.C. Place Stadium, the site of opening, closing and nightly medals ceremonies.

That means just $1.3 million remains from a $66.8 million, September 2006-established contingency pool. It was forecast to reach a minimum $10 million by January 2009, according to the September 2006 performance and accountability agreement between the B.C. government and VANOC.

According to the previous quarterly report, VANOC spent $300,000 of its $3.8 million venue budget for the dome. The new quarterly report foresees a $12.1 million cost to make the venue ready for the most-watched events of the Games.

B.C. Place is undergoing $365 million in pre-and-post Olympic renovations. In May, the government refused a 24 hours Freedom of Information request for the project business and financing plan, citing cabinet confidentiality.

The VANOC report said the Games' organizer spent $10.6 million on construction in the quarter, for a total to-date of $543.7 million.

The overall construction budget, funded by federal and B.C. taxpayers, is $580 million.

During the quarter, VANOC received $92.6 million from the International Olympic Committee, sold $52.9 million in tickets and received $36.3 million in sponsorship payments. Overall, project-to-date deferred operating revenues exceed deferred operating expenses by $182.3 million.

Chief financial officer John McLaughlin said in a news release that 62 per cent of VANOC operations spending is to come. The 21st Winter Games run Feb. 12-28, 2010 in Vancouver, Richmond, West Vancouver and Whistler.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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