Auckland City Council supports waterfront stadium in New Zealand

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Auckland City Council in New Zealand has approved the proposed NZ$700 million+ waterfront stadium in 13-7 (yes-no) vote in a marathon session lasting nearly 5 hours on Thursday night instead of an upgrade of Eden Park costing around $400 million. However they have called for the stadium to be location "substantially east" of the central government's preferred Marsden Wharf/Captain Cook site. The proposed stadium has been dubbed "Stadium New Zealand" by the media.

Two weeks ago Trevor Mallard, sports minister, said that the two councils had two weeks to come up with a decision on whether or not to support a waterfront stadium or Eden Park.

It is now falls on the Auckland Regional Council to approve the stadium plans or propose something else, which is supposed to happen tomorrow, Friday. Based on both these decisions, the central government will then make a decision on whether to construct the new Stadium New Zealand or upgrade the current Eden Park, located also in Auckland, which site will also be chosen. It is intended that this stadium will be used for the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.

Dick Hubbard, Mayor of Auckland, said: "In the past Auckland had missed too many opportunities. We can't get it wrong, we cannot bypass this opportunity. Controversy is a good sign, a healthy sign – all the major projects around the world have had controversy. Today it's not about rugby, it is about boldness and vision against caution."

As long as the waterfront stadium is moved then they have a "strong and absolute preference" towards the stadium. Neil Abel, councillor, had tried to remove the "strong and absolute" remark because he believes that Aucklanders did not get an opportunity to indicate that the decision is absolute.

Christine Caughey, councillor, said that the pressure that was put upon them for their decision by Mr Mallard was like "putting a gun to your head."

Other councillors also said that there wasn't enough time given for Aucklanders to have their say and to make their decision. They also said that some of their questions about the costs and transport, etc were left unanswered.

Despite those setbacks the majority did agree that the design of the stadium should be "bold, iconic and reflect our first city of the Pacific aspirations".

If the government cant make a deal with the Ports of Auckland, which owns the land the waterfront stadium is to be located, the regional council, other stakeholders, to move the stadium then the ACC will withdraw their support and support their second favoured, an upgrade of Eden Park.