Archive | Stadiums

Auckland’s stadiums – round we go again

Published 28 September 2012

Auckland Council-owned Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd has worked out how to rationalise the use of the region’s major stadiums, but that didn’t mean the council was going to like it when the proposal was put before councillors yesterday.

The council answer, at the end of a long question session & debate in a meeting at Pukekohe, was to call for a workshop – more questions, but this time behind closed doors – followed by public consultation.

In essence, the issues are how to get better use of Eden Park, which has become a very expensive white elephant post-Rugby World Cup, and how to improve the use of Mt Smart Stadium without spending a possible $70 million upgrading it.

Eden Park is owned by a trust board, but the council underwrote or provided $46 million of its $241 million upgrade for the rugby cup. Post-cup, seating was reduced from 60,000 to 50,000, but no event has gone near that capacity this year. Rugby league’s Warriors, meanwhile, want Mt Smart upgraded to capacity for 30,000 – and they don’t want to go to Eden Park.

Regional Facilities Auckland put a proposal to the council yesterday, arising from a discussion paper it’s developed after talking to numerous stakeholders, that the council “agree that the Auckland stadium strategic direction consists of:

Eden Park Stadium is the primary venue for rugby union, rugby league & Auckland Cricket gamesMt Smart Stadium is a base for rugby league for training, a high performance centre & central administrationIn principle, Springs Promotion Ltd (speedway) explores options to relocate to Mt Smart StadiumRecognising Auckland Cricket’s commitment to Eden Park, explore Western Springs suitability to host test cricket & local cricket in the longer term.”

Instead, councillors voted 11-7 to support a resolution proposed by Cllr Cathy Casey that the council undertake community consultation on the issues raised in Regional Facilities Auckland’s paper, after a councillor workshop.

Cllr Casey – who was a staunch opponent of high Auckland City Council spending for the Rugby World Cup and an advocate for legacy amenities around Eden Park, which mostly didn’t eventuate – said in putting her alternative to the Regional Facilities Auckland plan: “This is not a city of stakeholders, it is a city of people and the people have not spoken on the direction of stadiums.”

Councillors did agree that Regional Facilities Auckland work with the Eden Park Trust & North Harbour Stadium “to identify opportunities to share operations & management resources where it leads to cost savings, better optimisation of capital investment, staff specialisation & the implementation of best practice across the Auckland stadium network”.

Councillors also noted that reducing Eden Park’s costs was an important requirement to retire its debt obligations to the council.

But instead of agreeing that local community discussions be held on changes to stadium use, or that Regional Facilities Auckland work with the Eden Park Trust & North Harbour Stadium “to identify opportunities where governance arrangements could be aligned to benefit the Auckland stadium network”, the councillors opted for wider consultation.

Regional Facilities Auckland’s 2 discussion papers, Stadiums Auckland, a transformational change and Auckland stadiums, A blueprint for the future, are almost entirely about internal stadium use.

They are not about the wider picture of:

how stadiums fit into a future Aucklandaccess now and how access might be changed, or how it might be better to plan towards new venues with different accesshow a future stadium or stadiums might fit more happily into their surroundshow stadiums might generate more use than occasional large-crowd audiencesor even the question of whether audience figures will continue to decline or that trend can somehow be reversed.

The last question is the most important and has consistently not been addressed in the quest to be able to host the very rare event that will fill a 60,000-seat venue.

In that light, the more pragmatic and possibly cheaper long-term option might be to dismantle Eden Park, upgrade Mt Smart (left) or create some other mid-sized venue. I advocated Mt Smart as a more sensible option than Eden Park before the Rugby World Cup, because it’s in the centre of the region, has reasonable access that could easily be improved, and long-term could have new commercial & residential uses established around it as Auckland’s industrial heartland continues to evolve.

As the council works towards releasing its unitary plan next year, a central option such as Mt Smart or a new waterfront venue might prove sensible as a long-term option. But many more questions have to be asked first, out in the open. Having closed workshops so councillors can remove the fear of being quoted out of context is hardly an appropriate way to start the debate.

Link: 2 stadium issues papers, attachment to agenda item 12

Earlier stories:

3 December 2006: Ah, the stadium. Automatically we say no. Or are we really telling our politicians to think smarter?

1 December 2006: Tank farm “implementation” to start soon, says regional holding company

30 November 2006: Sir Barry serves up roast duck

28 November 2006: Waterfront out, new governing body for all Auckland stadiums planned

27 November 2006: Stadium earning power evaluated, but downsides skipped over

27 November 2006: Tank farm action sidelined

27 November 2006: Pricing a football ground: The uncounted future factors

24 November 2006: ARC rejects waterfront stadium unanimously

23 November 2006: Waterfront stadium gets the Auckland City vote

23 November 2006: Interim stadium injunction declined

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

 

Attribution: Council meeting, discussion paper, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Ah, the stadium. Automatically we say no. Or are we really telling our politicians to think smarter?

Published 3 December 2006


At the very end of Saturday I got a stadium email. I was planning a little respite from this subject for the weekend, but this one requires a response, and the response is quite long:



“Bob,


“I hope you have seen Brian Gaynor’s column in today’s Herald. It completely justifies my opinion that Auckland’s decision (well, actually ARC’s, plus 2/3 of general public, plus 3/4 of my fellow architects) to reject the waterfront stadium was a stupid one.


“Rgds;


–Dushko.“PS. My view of my own colleagues’ (architects) role in assisting this historic mistake is on the AAA website, if you are interested.” (Link below).


Nervous psyche versus all hands grasping nettles


Brian Gaynor quoted recently retired Fletcher Building Ltd managing director Ralph Waters, in describing opposition to a waterfront stadium in Auckland as indicating a deep-running “nervous psyche”.


In his 2 December Weekend Herald column, Mr Gaynor cited things we don’t want:

a waterfront stadium
a south-eastern highway
toll roads
new South Island hydro schemes
a secure electricity link into Auckland
conversion of Whenuapai Airport into a commercial operation.

Professor Dushko Bogunovich, of Unitec’s School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, wrote on the Auckland Architecture Association website on 30 November that the profession had let Auckland down in the stadium debate. The NZ Herald presented a story on 22 November, Architects oppose waterfront, commenting that “Auckland’s architects – a community priding itself on no shortage of vision – appear more vehemently opposed to a waterfront stadium then even Herald readers.”


Dr Bogunovich responded: “I don’t know about you, but I saw this as a sarcastic comment on the diminished ability of architects in this particular case to see the wider positive benefits of the waterfront stadium proposition. In other words, the media saw us as a conservative force…..


“Wasn’t it so painfully obvious that the Marsden/Cook site was a dog and that of course Auckland architects would be against it? The whole over-the-water proposition showed an appalling inability of central government to commission proper (if any??) urban design expertise before embarking on selling one of the largest urbanistic projects in the history of the country.”But then the call for the rally should have made it clear that the protest was about that site, not the entire city waterfront. There are some potentially huge benefits – though admittedly hard to prove, calculate & communicate in simple terms – from a site on the city waterfront.


“As long as you are inclined to believe in a benevolent central government – a government willing to contribute a major sum of money for the World Rugby Cup in such a way that it also triggers Auckland’s economic transformation and reinvigorates its public transport – would it not have been better if Auckland’s architects concentrated their energies on supporting the right site on the waterfront?”Which is the Bledisloe one…..


“Lastly – a point particularly dear to me and certainly part of the ‘economic transformation’ scenario – the waterfront proposal was advancing towards incorporating some bold green design solutions. Given more time, surely the building could have achieved a high degree of efficiency and a significant degree of sufficiency with regard to key resources (power, water), as well as waste minimisation and recycling.”With the currently exploding global interest in ecological design, clean technology & green buildings, this was the right recipe to achieve a ‘world-class’ project…..


“None of this can happen now. The project has gone to a rather dull location & impractical site. (And the one for which, apparently, no one wants to pay!)…..


“A more adequate & constructive view would have considered the ‘waterfront issue’ in its entirety. It would have recognised that Auckland’s waterfront is a 10km-long landscape stretching from Point Erin (Harbour Bridge) in the west, to Achilles Point (St Heliers) in the east. And then it would have highlighted the fact (yes, ‘fact’) that this is one of the most spectacular urban waterfronts in the world…..”


Nervous psyche? Or bad ideas justly panned?


What I infer from the Gaynor column is that people put up good ideas and we turn them down. You can look at each of his points above and show quickly why it might be far better for them not to be followed:

Waterfront stadium? Wrong place, cost blowout guaranteed and no assurance on who pays, numerous infrastructure uncertainties, especially for port operation and traffic movement
South-eastern highway? This road was not for the far east (around Glen Innes and across to Manukau’s eastern suburbs), which should eventually (it’s taking too long) be served by a range of improved transport modes, but for commuters from the eastern suburbs nearest the cbd. Dissect the many short-trip needs and you find a grand highway wasn’t the best option; look beyond cbd-&-back travel and you will get better regional structure & infrastructure
Toll roads? Get a government that offers reasoned tax models and it will be supported; have a government offer ad hoc solutions, especially including buy-off solutions and solutions that increase inequality & inequity, and there is reason not to trust it or support it
New hydro schemes? The engineer’s response of the 50s-60s was to dam surging waters, with one use in mind. Competing uses now include tourism & irrigation; more imaginative solutions for more diverse outcomes are required
A secure power link into Auckland? People along the pylon track have said: We don’t choose ugly as our first option.
Whenuapai for commercial flights? Like so many points around Auckland, access has to be improved. Better long-term options would be to improve the motorway network (happening), create rapid transit access to Mangere airport (linking with better western, south-to-west, north-cbd transit, some happening), increase Te Rapa’s role as an industrial area and Hamilton’s role as an airport serving Auckland.

The snake oil salesman


What I saw when Minister of Sport & the 2011 Rugby World Cup Trevor Mallard called his media conference on 10 November, giving 2 of the region’s 8 councils a fortnight to respond with a preference, was the arrival of the snake oil salesman.


Brian Gaynor referred to the stadium cost as “the projected $500 million”. $500 million was the total of the numbers Mr Mallard & advisors had counted. They listed (and I listed them on this website) a number of unknowns which were additional. The total was never going to be $500 million: With a cost-plus arrangement (not as in plus margin but as in cost plus whatever extra costs proved to be required) on the first stage a blowout was guaranteed.


The Government called in advisors to do the numbers and to test the practicality of various stadium possibilities a year after giving its support to the rugby union’s successful world cup bid. The Government had suddenly discovered things weren’t as it thought they were.


If you’re minister for an event you should know what’s going on. You should be in a position where surprises don’t happen. Your response to a surprise shouldn’t be to inflict surprises on others.


The timeframe for a regional response was manifestly inadequate, offering 2 poor options to choose between was certain to ensure an inadequate response, and locking out other potential participants was divisive & likely to elicit a negative response on funding. The mayors of Manukau, North Shore & Rodney – Sir Barry Curtis, George Wood & John Law – attended the Mallard media conference and 2 asked questions. They were there to protect their interests, and those of their electorates, while supporting a quality outcome. They were snubbed.


Even after the fallback Eden Park choice was made (with the unconsidered North Harbour as a fallback from that), the minister produced costings which contained a huge shortfall and no suggestion of how it might sensibly be made up.


Throw a tax here, if that group doesn’t like it, then throw a tax there….  On top of that, he threw in a proposal for a whole new governance structure for Auckland stadiums – does that include places like the Aotea Centre? The TelstraClear Events Centre at Manukau?


With that kind of performance, is it any wonder Aucklanders don’t trust people in government?


The Auckland Regional Council & Auckland City Council have been working for rather too long on the framework for a changed waterfront, in association with Ports of Auckland as owner of much of the property involved. Does it make sense to throw a left-field decision – not a suggestion – at them at a very late stage in their deliberations?


Mr Mallard threw bad ideas at Auckland. If he knew they were bad he had an ulterior motive. If he didn’t know they were bad, he was sucked in.


Long-term waterfront ideas


Ports of Auckland Ltd has steadily been changing its use of the Auckland waterfront and there was an opportunity, properly presented, to bring about a quantum leap in waterfront use. The opportunity was lost because the presentation was wrong.


Ports of Auckland first said it would need time to get new land or wharves before it handed any over for a stadium. The port company fought against microlight users & the flyers of model planes to secure Pikes Pt, on the Manukau Harbour, for the storage of imported cars. It’s also been setting up internal ports as cargo bases, where containers are transferred from the wharf for subsequent distribution.


It’s conceivable that there would be no waterfront cargo storage in the very near future, whether a stadium is proposed or not: A rail link could be used not just to transfer containers from their wharf stacks to Wiri, but to transfer every one directly from the ship to Wiri, bypassing the waterfront stack. Cars, likewise, could bypass the waterfront parking stage.


These stacks have replaced the old wharf sheds – same method, just a different box. Progress towards off-wharf solutions can continue rapidly. Does that mean a stadium on Bledisloe Wharf would be a sensible replacement for cargoes? It might well be – and could still happen, although without the impetus of a particular event it becomes harder. But there will be other events, and if Auckland works out the venue first it can chase the events that suit it.


Is a 60,000-seat stadium our size?


When temporary seating was first suggested to make up the difference between Eden Park’s existing capacity & a one-off world cup requirement, it made great sense. Unless the area between Kingsland & Dominion Rd undergoes further change away from a villa environment – and this could well happen – its place as a sporting venue must be restricted.


Do we make ourselves look the poor cousins, offering temporary seating? Or do we make ourselves look smarter: We know our capacity, we know our future needs, we can make you comfortable while you’re here but we’re building a more beautiful city and we don’t want to waste money on 20,000 seats that will never be used again?


Even if Kingsland undergoes the changes that would enable Eden Park to play a greater role as a venue, those 20,000 seats will have little use. Aucklanders have stopped turning out frequently in droves to support their team, and they have more teams to support. Could Eden Park become the one-stop venue for rugby union, league & soccer? For Auckland, North Harbour & Counties?


Individual sports need to make their mark, which they won’t do by happily fitting in with a competitor. And where’s the patriotism in crossing the harbour bridge or driving up from Pukekohe to support your team using “foreign” sole as its home?


Changing Kingsland, and taking a broader view to long-term change


Those issues might be drawbacks, but the future of Kingsland is another matter and Eden Park could fit well there. An extensive area is already used for commercial or light industrial business and the suburb has seen more intensive residential developments arrive over the past 5 years. Eden Park is not surrounded completely by a stable mass of villas.


Both the regional & city councils have been devising plans to cope with double the population in the next 50 years (we’re now down to about 40 to go). Importantly, none of these solutions should be forever, but that’s how they tend to be viewed. Halfway stages are not countenanced.


Planners go from suburb to suburb touting planning options, looking for ideas which essentially have to fit within a planning module but also seeking ideas which might fit no existing canvas. This last group of ideas, however, falls away because they are impractical – none of the people producing the ideas owns the site they’re talking about, the zoning would have to change and that would take years…..


The regional council wants territorial councils to produce capacity-increasing changes while it gets on with infrastructure such as roads & rail routes and makes sure the environment is safeguarded. The Auckland Regional Growth Forum has recently gone to the trouble of seeking the input of its neighbours, but that’s a long way yet from taking a broader view into which local specifics can be placed.


Of course, it’s easy to over-consider options and never reach a decision. And it’s easy to have so much planning & bureaucratic input that an idea is stale long before a conclusion on it is reached. Some of the more innovative, brighter changes around Auckland have arisen because of commercial need (inner-city apartment development in the 90s grew out of a wasteland of low-quality, vacant office space) or because of a combination of recognising commercial reality (ending the days of the log farm) & seizing the main chance (the Viaduct Basin’s more valuable commercial & residential opportunism).


If politicians & bureaucrats create an environment to encourage bright ideas to flourish, Auckland will get more than a brilliant stadium in the right place. It will transform the region into one of built beauty, of world-leading (not the lesser world-class) use of its environment. That doesn’t happen when the man purporting to lead the charge is urging his own finger further & further up his own nose.


Website: Auckland Architecture Association



 


Earlier stories:


1 December 2006: Tank farm “implementation” to start soon, says regional holding company


30 November 2006: Sir Barry serves up roast duck


28 November 2006: Waterfront out, new governing body for all Auckland stadiums planned


27 November 2006: Stadium earning power evaluated, but downsides skipped over


27 November 2006: Tank farm action sidelined


27 November 2006: Pricing a football ground: The uncounted future factors


24 November 2006: ARC rejects waterfront stadium unanimously


23 November 2006: Waterfront stadium gets the Auckland City vote


23 November 2006: Interim stadium injunction declined


 


Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].


 


Attribution: Gaynor column, Bogunovich on AAA website, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Sir Barry serves up roast duck

Published 29 November 2006


Manukau City’s mayor turned the stadium debacle into a Government fry-up today. Sir Barry Curtis said Manukau City Council had played no part in decisions over the upgrade of Eden Park and wouldn’t contribute funding towards it.


Sir Barry’s statement turns the 2-week ultimatum which Minister for Sport & the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Trevor Mallard, delivered to 2 other Auckland councils on 10 November on its head.


Mr Mallard offered the Auckland City Council & Auckland Regional Council the opportunity to choose between 2 bad options – a waterfront stadium which was largely unpriced, geologically uncertain and unwanted by anybody with an ounce of urban design sensitivity, and the home of Auckland rugby, Eden Park, where neighbours have managed to tie the trust board down to a limited number of events annually, and a very limited number of night-time events.


Sir Barry, North Shore mayor George Wood and Rodney mayor John Law all attended the 10 November media conference (they had seats while most of the media didn’t) at accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, overlooking the proposed waterfront stadium site (should have been held down on the 12th floor, just to show what you would have no longer seen if that stadium had been built).


The mayors asked questions, an interesting variation on media roles, and were told in no uncertain terms that they weren’t involved: This was a matter between the Government, the Auckland City & Auckland Regional Councils.


The regional council has already said it won’t contribute to an Eden Park upgrade.


Today, Sir Barry said: “We have not been consulted and it is wrong to assume that we & other councils in the region will automatically stump up to pay for an extravagant & expensive project which I believe is unnecessary.


“The assumption’s been made that councils will help pick up the tab, and most likely a large part of it. That’s not correct. Manukau has not budgeted for such expenditure and it isn’t acceptable for us to be simply presented with a bill for something we took no part in planning and have not agreed to fund. Other councils are in the same position, I am certain.


“I do not support a deluxe upgrade of a private facility at the public’s expense. If the current plan goes ahead, we would be faced with an expensive white elephant because there will be few large events in the future needing seating for 60,000 people.


“I believe the whole upgrade can be done for a relatively small amount of money using temporary seating that can be removed once the World Cup is over. The cost for this option has been put at around $40 million. But even if it is higher, it would be much less than the likely cost of the deluxe upgrade at $400 million-plus, which equates to over $30,000/seat.”


Impact spreads


The heading on Sir Barry’s release was, Manukau will not pay for an extravagant white elephant at Eden Park. But the impact goes far beyond that.


Prime Minister Helen Clark went to Dublin to support the NZ Rugby Union’s cup bid, based on having a final before 60,000 people at Eden Park. The Government decided to intervene when it learned the cost had ballooned, possibly now to $385 million for a stadium which would no longer have temporary seating but would have new stands in a far superior upgrade.


Mr Mallard came to Auckland with his ultimatum, perhaps ignoring the fact that, just as Auckland City couldn’t possibly let an event like this shuffle over the bridge to North Harbour Stadium or down to a new ground at Wiri, the “suburban” councils feel no compassion toward the local centre either.


The Government can throw a tantrum, pull motorway programmes and cause more congestion around the Auckland region in spite. The result of that would be a vote for National and new motorway programmes in a couple of years.


The blundering mallard has more than shot himself in the foot, he’s put the prime minister’s job on the line too.


It’s the Government that fronted with world cup support and the Government that has to ensure there’s a place to play the final. It could take the final to Jade Stadium in Christchurch, but would now have to guarantee long-term capital debt & opex cover. And if the Government took the final away from a city which didn’t know how to organise itself for the event, well, more votes lost.


Earlier stories:


28 November 2006: Waterfront out, new governing body for all Auckland stadiums planned


27 November 2006: Stadium earning power evaluated, but downsides skipped over


27 November 2006: Tank farm action sidelined


27 November 2006: Pricing a football ground: The uncounted future factors


24 November 2006: ARC rejects waterfront stadium unanimously


23 November 2006: Waterfront stadium gets the Auckland City vote


23 November 2006: Interim stadium injunction declined


 


Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].


 


Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Waterfront out, new governing body for all Auckland stadiums planned

Published 28 November 2006


Cabinet rejected the waterfront stadium proposal yesterday and handed the 2011 Rugby World Cup final to Eden Park.



But it’s not a final decision. Minister for the cup, Trevor Mallard, still harbours doubts that the traditional home of Auckland rugby can be readied for the event and North Harbour Stadium has been named as the backup venue.


A dejected Mr Mallard, announcing the outcome yesterday, said: “Cabinet has decided to support a redeveloped Eden Park but has also asked for more work to be done to agree on the redevelopment design, and on governance & funding issues going forward, with a report back to Cabinet by 13 December. This report-back date will not affect building timelines.”As the Cabinet paper I am releasing today notes, the resource consent, funding, governance & future economic viability issues relating to Eden Park have sufficient uncertainty that further analysis is prudent.”


In the Cabinet paper, Mr Mallard said it was estimated settling with Ports of Auckland Ltd would have cost $117 million:

$7 million for an extension of Bledisloe Wharf
$20 million for a 1500-car stacker on Jellicoe Wharf
$70 million to reclaim 5-6ha north of Bledisloe, and
$20 million for a new berth on this extra reclaimed piece of the harbour, Bledisloe North.

Mr Mallard said this would have released Captain Cook & Marsden Wharves, plus Queen’s Wharf by 2011. Removing Queen’s Wharf from the equation would have halved the reclamation costs to $35 million.


Lack of foresight all Auckland‘s fault


The way Mr Mallard expressed it, Auckland was to blame for being unable to agree on which of 2 poor options to accept. Both the Auckland City & Auckland Regional Councils recognised Eden Park’s difficulties as a long-term sports venue in suburbia, and three-quarters of the councillors spoke vehemently against Mr Mallard’s heavily favoured waterfront option. Some of those who supported the waterfront did so only if the stadium site was moved further east than the Government had proposed.


Unanimity from every member of 2 quite different councils, each with extremely different agendas – one territorial, the other the guardian of resources & services and indirect controller of the port company – was an unreasonable expectation, always unlikely to be fulfilled.


However, Mr Mallard did acknowledge the force of argument out of Auckland against the waterfront stadium but for the waterfront’s transformation – perhaps, during the fortnight he gave the councils to reach a preference, somebody handed him a copy of the Vision 2040 document.


“While a finals venue for the 2011 world cup needs to be moved in the short term, there remains the opportunity to respond to the economic transformation & world-class-city aspirations apparent in Auckland’s debate of the stadium issue. Broad consensus emerged around the view that a significant waterfront development, and opening access for Auckland to the waterfront, would be significant catalytic forces to these aspirations.”


Mr Mallard said increasing seating capacity at North Harbour would allow Auckland to be named as the finals city, with the venue to be determined after Eden Park’s issues were evaluated in more detail.


First hearing 30 November


The consent applications for Eden Park’s $320 million stadium are set down for hearing on Thursday 30 November. More consents will be required for its $385 million proposal, still in concept form.


$50 million for the Eden Park stadium is to come from the Auckland City Council, although that was a mayoral offer and hasn’t been agreed yet by the council. The regional council has offered nothing.


But the future may be very different for the regional council, and will certainly be different for governance of Eden Park. The park’s trust board has put up 6 governance options – one of them granting a long-term lease to a new board, 3 recognising the Government’s funding role, one bringing local body representatives on to the board and the sixth introducing a new agency to govern & manage all stadiums in Auckland.


The Eden Park board prefers option 4, with 6 appointees of the Government joining 2 members of the existing board.


The opportunity for control


But option 6 presents the opportunity for central control, and that’s the way Mr Mallard wants to take things: “Auckland’s major stadia & recreational facilities operate in competition with each other and are perceived by their stakeholders as marginal or distressed assets. Rationalisation of these facilities is desirable in the longer term, but for now it would be highly desirable to place the management of these facilities within a regional ownership or operation structure with the objective of reducing the overhead cost and improving their financial viability. It is proposed that the finals venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, including Eden Park, be incorporated into such a governance model.”


Website: Cabinet paper


 


Related stories:


27 November 2006: Stadium earning power evaluated, but downsides skipped over


27 November 2006: Tank farm action sidelined


27 November 2006: Pricing a football ground: The uncounted future factors


24 November 2006: ARC rejects waterfront stadium unanimously


23 November 2006: Waterfront stadium gets the Auckland City vote


23 November 2006: Interim stadium injunction declined


 


Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].


 


Attribution: Mallard release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Lee road-tests Mt Smart with councillor governance fest, and Swney suggests an Amsterdam model

Published 1 October 2006


Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee will test the views of councillors from around the region on Mt Smart’s place in the stadium hierarchy with a meeting there on Monday on regional governance.



Stadiums aren’t what the meeting’s about – it follows the odd behaviour of the 4 self-anointed city mayors in making governance reform proposals without talking to anybody else, hardly the way to achieve a democratic outcome and, given the opening statements from the self-anointed 4, hardly likely to become the new structure given the autocratic & appointed components.


But, in a way, stadiums are a very good example of what this governance talk is about. After more serious suggestions that spending $300 million-plus on upgrading Eden Park for the Rugby World Cup would be folly, as the suburban park shouldn’t be considered as better than a short-term option, all sorts of instant solutions have surfaced.


A key factor in all solutions is speed in getting through the resource consent process. Primarily, that’s evidence that nobody’s thinking too far forward. Secondly, it provides opponents of timely & reasoned process the opportunity to proclaim the Resource Management Act as a development-destroying weapon instead of being a valuable tool. The standard first solution to overcome the RMA blockade is to propose shortcuts for major projects which ordinary consent applicants wouldn’t be able to use.


So the current talk about stadiums is very much what the governance issue is about: Quick fixes arising from a lack of forethought versus the choice of a stadium location which will last because it’s sensible for a future population.


It’s easy to discount Eden Park for its suburban location, enduring gripes from the locals whenever more use is proposed, and for its congestion-inducing local rod system. Even a highly efficient train service through Kingsland station won’t end the traffic congestion.


When, nearly 20 years ago, the Railways Corp proposed selling the land that became Quay Park, it seemed a natural replacement for Eden Park but the Government company was looking greedily at 1987-price commercial returns. It had potential for moving post-match traffic quickly in a multitude of directions, and far better potential for that than waterfront suggestions proposed recently.


Building a stadium anywhere on the city access routes to the harbour bridge would bring – on a more frequent basis – the same kind of turmoil the canned Victoria Park car races would have brought. Friday night matches 100m from the Fanshawe St bridge entry would guarantee chaos for city workers going home and fighting the incoming match audience not just from the north, but from the west & east.


City & regional council staffs have spent several years looking at increasing the region’s capacity to cope with the doubling of population in 50 years. More slowly than it ought to have been done, thought has also gone into providing future business land and land for some greenfields residential growth.


Those kinds of processes tend not to include calculating what the city or the region or the country might be about long-term – things like what a difference a changed racial makeup might make (the Chinese proportion of the Auckland population has been rising, for instance, but it’s not distinguished as having different intents & desires now, or changing them in the future.)


Perhaps commuting in reverse will increase in popularity – staying in city flats or apartments instead of suburban houses during the week, heading further away to coastal or rural communities at the weekend.


Perhaps extreme sports will become our chief sporting activity and rugby will run its commercial course – too much of it on TV, the buildup going from good to better to worse (as in Super 14 up to international then down to provincial), the audience defeated by the negative power of flat defensive backlines.


Perhaps, lots more perhapses that we don’t think about.


I advocated a closer look at Mt Smart as a stadium option because it’s central, it has a range of access routes which can be improved, including rail, it doesn’t have immediate residential hang-ups but it does have nearby suburbs which could provide users for a multi-purpose facility and gain from an influx of fans into their town centres.


The few Counties & Manukau rugby supporters to have made their way up from Franklin & Manukau to their team’s current home ground will have found out what access is like but won’t have seen much of the nearby town centres. That’s the kind of growth you can work on over a long period.


Check Amsterdam


Another stadium, another part of the world: Alex Swney at Heart of the City suggested this week I take a closer look at Amsterdam’s ArenA, home of the Ajax football team.


The stadium seats 51,600 and average football crowds over the past 4 years have been in the range of 47-49,000. The stadium has 2000 parking spaces in the transferium (park-&-ride) on 2 levels under the playing surface, another 12,000 nearby. The railway station is a short walk away.


Said Mr Swney of a similar venture at Mt Smart: “Imagine this being the legacy of the Rugby World Cup, say  – a transport park’n’ ride hub based on the new rail link to the airport further enhancing tourism that, for the second year running, has eclipsed dairy as our No 1 forex earner.”


Amsterdam has some distinct differences – its population is 740,000, while the population of the region is 1.5 million. Visitor numbers are far greater for Amsterdam than for Auckland – 8.3 million hotel foreigner guest nights/year for Amsterdam, 31.2 million guest nights (foreign & local) for the whole of New Zealand, 3.55 million for Auckland City.


Website: Amsterdam Arena


Stadium Guide


Stadium Guide/Amsterdam Arena


 


Earlier stories:


28 September 2006: Lee invites region’s councillors to reform forum at Mt Smart


Tony Holman article, 21 September 2006: Auckland’s local government reform: Where to next?


21 September 2006: Curtis welcomes debate on regional governance


19 September 2006: Councillors turn towards positive ideas on governance


17 September 2006: Take a bagful of knees, $300 million of somebody else’s money and presto! Lots of jerking


17 September 2006: The self-anointed 4 versus democratic consideration


 


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Attribution: ARC release, Swney suggestion, ArenA weblinks, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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