Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Public to get say on stadium plans

Councillors split over proposal to move league to Eden Park, cricket to the Springs and speedway to Mt Smart

Bud Abbott reckons his mates would rip up their season tickets to the Warriors if the club shifted to Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker
Bud Abbott reckons his mates would rip up their season tickets to the Warriors if the club shifted to Eden Park. Photo / Greg Bowker

A plan to shift the Warriors from Mt Smart Stadium to Eden Park has been kicked into touch to give Aucklanders a chance to have their say.

Instead of approving a "strategic direction" for the city's big stadiums yesterday, the Auckland Council voted 11-7 to undertake community consultation on the plan to turn Eden Park into the primary venue for rugby, rugby league, one-day and 20/20 cricket.

Other pieces of the jigsaw involve moving speedway to Mt Smart Stadium to free Western Springs for test cricket.

Mt Smart Stadium would be used as a training base for league, a high performance centre and remain the home of athletics.

North Harbour Stadium would continue to be used by North Harbour Rugby and New Zealand Soccer.

League fans - including patriarch Sir Peter Leitch - have slammed the proposed move, saying a move to the 50,000-seat stadium would create a horrible atmosphere.

Auckland councillors were divided yesterday over whether the public should have a say.

Leading the pro-consultation team was Cathy Casey, who said the public had yet to speak on the future of the city's stadiums.

Mike Lee said he had sympathy for the difficult task being tackled by the council-controlled Regional Facilities Auckland but had grave misgivings about the direction it was taking.

"Bringing the public in can only help," he said.

But other councillors, including Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Len Brown, Ann Hartley, George Wood and Dick Quax strongly opposed public consultation.

Ms Hulse and Ms Hartley said it was the job of Regional Facilities, not the council, to consult on the plan, and they were unsure what the council would be consulting on.

Regional Facilities has been working on the project for nearly two years and consulted a wide range of sporting bodies and other interested stakeholders.

The overall plan is expected to reduce council funding requirements, create opportunities for Eden Park to reduce debts of $55 million and strengthen the overall financial position of the region's stadiums.

After the meeting, Regional Facilities chief executive Robert Domm said the council needed to agree a strategy before the end of the year.

"We put it up to them [council]," he said. "They didn't make the call today, but eventually they have got to make the call. We hope they make it sooner rather than later."

Eden Park Neighbours' Association president Mark Donnelly, who addressed the council yesterday, said it was commonsense to consult Aucklanders.

How they voted

For public consultation

Cameron Brewer, Cathy Casey, Sandra Coney, Alf Filipaina, Christine Fletcher, Mike Lee, Richard Northey, Calum Penrose, Sharon Stewart, John Walker, Wayne Walker

Against

Penny Hulse (deputy mayor), Michael Goudie, Ann Hartley, Des Morrison, Dick Quax, Noelene Raffills, George Wood

Absent: Mayor Len Brown, Arthur Anae, Penny Webster

Staunchies will boycott, says fan

Bud Abbott reckons his mates would rip up their season tickets to the Warriors if the club shifted to Eden Park.

The 58-year-old from Manurewa has been a season-ticket holder since 1995 at Mt Smart and has had the team logo worked into a leg tattoo.

"A lot of staunchies won't go, I know quite a few who ... are saying, 'We won't go to Eden Park.' The parking's rubbish, the food's not that great. It's a rah-rah stadium."

He says Mt Smart has Eden Park beaten for atmosphere.

There's no way Warriors fans should bail out debt-ridden Eden Park, another season-ticket holder, Mike Brown, reckons.

"If the boot was on the other foot there's no way rugby would be bailing out league. The Warriors have got enough problems of their own without worrying about union, the country already falls over backwards for union."

- Yvonne Tahana

- NZ Herald

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