It's not over yet - Eden Park could still be dumped as the Rugby World Cup final venue, as private backers say they have found a $200 million overseas investor to revamp Carlaw Park.
The latest twist in Auckland's stadium saga has seen the derelict former rugby league ground re-emerge as a potential contender after a private business consortium, led by an Australian bank, came forward with a $400 million redevelopment plan.
Sports Minister Trevor Mallard is being kept in the loop, and a senior official at the Ministry of Economic Development has held a number of meetings with representatives for the brokers of the deal, Auckland-based Multinational Property Infrastructure.
It comes after the Government's preferred choice of a waterfront stadium was sunk - and after Eden Park was approved but with stringent resource consent conditions. A second option will be needed if Eden Park fails to raise a funding shortfall of $225 million or doesn't meet the conditions of its resource consent.
North Harbour Stadium is the official back-up option, but the resurrection of Carlaw as a contender is a new twist on the stadium saga.
The emergence of private investors could be attractive to central and local government, which face having to impose crippling bills on ratepayers to pay for the upgrade of Eden Park.
Australian firm Macquarie Bank is fronting the group and is said to have $200 million to put towards revamping Carlaw - about half of what's needed.
The consortium consists of three international companies, including Opus International, and is looking at options for the other $200m.
Government officials have met with the consortium twice since Eden Park was named as the preferred site for the final, and Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard has received a report on the proposal.
A spokeswoman for Mallard said he was aware of the bid, but he believed the consortium did not have the finances required.
"I have had a letter and report on this matter. The suggestion that a third party would own and take the risk on a stadium is not accurate. I will not make any further comment," Mallard said through the spokeswoman.
High-ranking MED officer Adam Feeley is believed to have met with two advocates for the $400 million project in December and was part of a conference call discussing arrangements two weeks ago.
Last November, the Herald on Sunday broke the news that nearly half of the Auckland City Council went behind the Mayor's back to petition the prime minister to reconsider Carlaw Park as a possible site.
Mayor Dick Hubbard said his "jaw hit the floor" when he learned that nine of the city's 20 councillors had signed a letter urging Helen Clark to consider the ground.
Yesterday, the councillors reaffirmed their preference for the park at the bottom of Parnell.
One of the main backers, councillor Richard Simpson, has suggested a direct city link by opening the tunnels under Albert Park for a travelator, or moving footpath.
His Action Hobson colleague, Christine Caughey, yesterday said Carlaw was the best of all the possible sites, would reconnect the city with the Domain, was close to a transport hub and would revitalise the area.
"It's not too late," she said. "There have been closed minds to Carlaw Park, and the ministry needs to lift their blinkers."