Auckland venue search zero in on two stadia


Two options for Auckland new stadium Image: Eden Park (Facebook)

The choice for a future premium stadium in Auckland (New Zealand) has been narrowed down to two options – either a revamped Eden Park or a new waterfront precinct near the City Centre at Quay Park.

‘The New Zealand Herald’ stated that the groups behind both stadium bids now have six months to complete the feasibility studies to try and demonstrate why their bid should become the choice adopted by the Auckland Council.

The Eden Park is a sports venue in Auckland, New Zealand. It is located three kilometers Southwest of the Auckland Central Business District (CBD), on the boundary between the suburbs of Mount Eden and Kingsland. The main stadium has a nominal capacity of 50,000 and is sometimes referred to as New Zealand’s national stadium. The stadium is used primarily for rugby union in Winter and cricket in Summer and has also hosted rugby league and association football matches as well as concerts and cultural events. It is owned and operated by the Eden Park Trust Board, whose headquarters are located in the stadium.

The Te Tōangaroa Consortium’s proposal first emerged in February, consisting of a new 55,000-seat stadium in the Quay Park area of Auckland (New Zealand). The stadium would form part of a wider 15-hectare precinct that would also include hotels, bars, restaurants, retail and office space, residential apartments, and green spaces.

The Auckland Council is the local Government Council for the Auckland Region in New Zealand. It is a territorial authority that has the responsibilities, duties and powers of a regional Council and so is a unitary authority, according to the Local Government Act 2009, which established the Council.

‘The New Zealand Herald’ further stated that the above comes nine months after the Mayor of Auckland Wayne Brown set up a working group to resolve what a multipurpose ‘Auckland Main Stadium’ would look like for the City.

Four proposals had been in the running with the wider Council taking a vote on which options to continue pursuing before releasing the decision on May 31st.

The Eden Park 2.1, a redevelopment option of the current national stadium, had earlier been believed to be the frontrunner.

The Eden Park 2.1 is a proposed refurbishment of Auckland’s main stadium, the Eden Park, to make it a 60,000-capacity sport and entertainment venue. The proposed enhancements include: A retractable roof, three new grandstands, a pedestrian promenade to the Kingsland Train Station, and a revamped Northern Stand.

Its bid involved increasing the stadium’s capacity to 60,000, making plans for a retractable roof, a new North stand, upgrades to the two other grandstands, and a pedestrian access way crossing the Sandringham Road.

The second proposal to be backed on May is 30th is a waterfront stadium precinct to be built at Quay Park or Te Tōangaroa, backed by the New Zealand Rugby, and including an All Blacks-branded hotel.

Wellington (New Zealand)-based New Zealand Rugby is one of New Zealand’s largest sports organizations and the governing body of rugby union committed to ensuring that the country’s national game rugby is run smoothly and effectively.

The New Zealand national rugby union team, commonly known as the All Blacks, represents New Zealand in men’s international rugby union, which is considered the country’s national sport. Famed for their international success, the All Blacks have often been regarded as one of the most successful sports teams in history. The Eden Park serves as their home base.

Stated Shane Henderson, Auckland Councilor – the Chair of the Stadium Venues Working Group, “Both bidders have been invited to complete their feasibility studies within a six-month time frame, at their own expense.”

The two bids will not only have to demonstrate why they are better than the other bid but also how they are better than the current stadium arrangement in the City.

Brown had earlier made it clear that any stadium options will be at “no cost to the ratepayers” and with no funding in the Council’s 10-year budget to contribute to the hundreds of millions of dollars for a new stadium, Council sources had been picking the status quo in Eden Park.

Earlier, Councilor Henderson had ruled out proposals for stadiums at Wynyard Quarter and Bledisloe Wharf (port in Auckland) because the Council has “consulted on other plans” for those areas.

These two losing proposals involved:

  • A 70,000-seat, fully enclosed stadium sunk into the Waitematā Harbour, next to the Bledisloe Wharf, with a floating roof above the sea level; and
  • A stadium and entertainment precinct at the Wynyard Quarter encompassing the main 55,000-seat stadium, an indoor arena and an outdoor amphitheater to view harbor events like SailGP (international sailing competition).

Henderson said all the four shortlisted stadium proposals “demonstrated innovative ideas” and showcased “vision”.

He added, “As part of this process, we initiated an expression of interest callout to the open market. The submitters were asked to present options for a national stadium that could be delivered at little to no cost to the ratepayers while providing a vision for a world-class future-proof multipurpose main stadium that will deliver economic benefits for the Aucklanders.”

Those evaluating the proposals included independent consultants with expertise on stadium operations together with the Councilors who understood public opinion on the issue, Henderson said.

One industry expert had stated in February that the proposed main stadium, wherever it is ultimately placed, will need to have a minimum of 30 major events annually to break even and more than 40 to turn a profit.

That will mean that sporting content with anchor tenants such as the professional rugby league football club the New Zealand Warriors, the New Zealand professional rugby union team the Blues and the new Auckland A-League football team will be crucial given the fickle and complicated nature of the entertainment events, especially the large-scale concerts.

The Wynyard Point consortium head Richard Dellabarca said that the current set-up of four stadiums (the Eden Park, the 25,000-capacity Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, the 25,000-capacity North Harbour Stadium, and the 30,000-capacity Western Springs) was unsustainable.

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