New Zealand National party rejects waterfront stadium

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The New Zealand National party is rejecting the government's ambitions to build a new stadium on Auckland, New Zealand's waterfront for the 2011 Rugby World Cup final instead it is backing the option of an upgrade of Eden Park.

Yesterday, Friday, Member of Parliaments (MP) from the National party met with Trevor Mallard, sports minister, to discuss the possibility of a waterfront stadium but National remain unmoved. Deputy leader, Gerry Brownlee, said: "If it was a new car I wouldn't buy it."

It was reported that John Key, Gerry Brownlee, Katherine Rich and Murray McCully were all present at the meeting with Mr Mallard. And all of those MPs threw a lot of questions at Mr Mallard.

Mr Mallard said: "I actually thought it was a very positive meeting. I thought Catherine Rich and John Key's level of understanding increased and their enthusiasm was very positive."

Mr Brownlee said: "The [NZ]$385 million Eden Park costings seemed relatively certain against the $500 million waterfront estimate, where the price would not be known till it's built."

The reason for the debate is because to host the Rugby World Cup the venue which is used for the final game has to have 60,000 seats, all of New Zealand's stadiums are currently under that minimum.

Mr Mallard confirmed that North Harbour Stadium is also being considered as a "very good back-up option." This is mainly because it can begin upgrading of its stadium before Eden Park or the waterfront stadium. "North Harbour could be called on if you ran into problems with the other options," Mr Mallard said, "There are consenting issues there with buildability and there would still be a lot of transport issues getting people there and there's not a lot of infrastructure around it."

The decision of which stadium will be the venue of the grand final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final will be made this Friday by the Auckland City Council and Auckland Regional Council, which is asking for the public's opinion to help them with their decision. The council's decision is the one the government will go with according to Mr Mallard: "There's no way the Government would override the councils' decisions."

Mr Mallard added: "I love Eden Park, and my gut feeling for a long time was to upgrade it. If you like I've got a romantic attachment, so for me if Aucklanders decide that's their approach I will back them."

The International Rugby Board also announced the Rugby World Cup will be played around September. 2011 instead of around the June period.