Cullen: Eden Park not best for World Cup

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has said he does not believe Eden Park is a credible Rugby World Cup venue, Newstalk ZB has reported.

A decision on a World Cup stadium will be made tomorrow when Sports Minister Trevor Mallard makes some proposals, the Government has confirmed.

But Dr Cullen said he did not believe Eden Park was a viable option long-term.

Dr Cullen said it is in the middle of suburbs, which means it cannot hold concerts, Sunday night games and a lot of other events.

He said the media, not the Government, had talked up the waterfront option.

But the news has gutted Eden Park supporters. Chairman of the development committee Rob Fisher was too shocked to comment in any detail when Michael Cullen's statement was passed onto him, saying it is contrary to what has been said so far.

Mr Fisher is now taking time to gather his thoughts.

Yesterday, Dr Cullen said a waterfront stadium would be seen as a national stadium - and linked to Labour's "economic transformation" strategy - whereas upgrading Eden Park would simply be seen as an Auckland stadium.

He dismissed the Carlaw Park option as affecting the Domain and North Harbour Stadium for transport reasons.

Mr Mallard has briefed the National Party on the options but other parties have complained they have been left out of the loop.

United Future Peter Dunne said today he was "seriously alarmed at what is looming as a complete shambles over the location and funding of the new national stadium".

No one knew who the experts were the Government kept referring to and many people who should have been consulted had not.

"Time is extremely short, there's no agreement on who might pay for the stadium, nor is there any agreement on where it should be in Auckland, let alone any other part of the country," Mr Dunne said.

"Do we really want to stand around in a couple of years with our heads bowed and ask Australia to take over the Rugby World Cup because we're incapable of getting our act together?"

Green MP Keith Locke said he had only today been offered a briefing by Mr Mallard.

But it seemed getting numbers in Parliament was more important to the Government than working with its allies.

"We do have concerns... that it might end up like a blot on the seascape and undermine the good work that's been done along the Auckland waterfront to make it more people-friendly,"

The extra expense of a waterfront stadium could be spent on electrifying the Auckland rail system, he said.

- NEWSTALK ZB / NZHERALD STAFF / NZPA

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