Plenty of venue options for party central: PM

Prime Minister John Key says Victoria Park and the Viaduct are both options for the Rugby World Cup's "party central" after plans for a Queen's Wharf venue unravelled last week.

The Auckland Regional Council turned its back on the Government's plan to demolish two century-old sheds on Queen's Wharf and put up a temporary glass and steel party venue, instead wanting to renovate one shed, possibly move the other, and build a temporary structure that was yet to be designed.

Mr Key said last night in Vietnam the Government was "not very enthralled" by the ARC's proposal.

"If that means we have to go to another location then we'll go and explore that." But all options were still on the table and a decision had not been made, he said.

"I think it's more a process than a location at this point."

Mr Key said he would look at all of the options available when he returned on Tuesday. Victoria Park could be one, but it wasn't "a slam dunk".

"It's in the right location, potentially, so is the Viaduct, so are others.

"I think there are plenty of options."

The Maritime International Centre being built on the Viaduct had a lot of land around it and would be an option, Mr Key said.

The Government wanted a place where large numbers of fans could congregate and somewhere that could also host international media and concerts, he said.

"There's quite a number of international tourists who will travel to New Zealand. They'll have a wonderful time and they'll never actually go to a game.

"They'll end up going to fan zones and bars and all sorts of other things to be part of the atmosphere that will no doubt engulf New Zealand come September-October 2011 but they won't necessarily be doing it from Eden Park."

Two days ago, RWC Minister Murray McCully described Auckland's local government as "a train wreck".

"You come to Auckland where there is this train wreck of a local government and, frankly, it's very difficult to do business.

"Nothing could be as bad as what we have at the moment ...

"Auckland seems to have this terrible local government disease and the closer we got to local body elections here it's getting worse."

Mr McCully said there was no way the shed could be restored in time for the World Cup, but whatever happened there would be a party venue in the city.

"We have to provide a fan zone in downtown Auckland for those who can't get to the games, that's part of our contractual obligation to the IRB [International Rugby Board]."



Super City mayoral hopeful Andrew Williams says the focus on Auckland party central has got out of hand.

Mr Williams' comments followed Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee announcing that the council now wants to see a heritage shed at Queens Wharf restored for next year's Rugby World Cup, at a cost of $17 million. Mr Lee had previously called the sheds "old and cheap and nasty" and the reversal has put him at odds with Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully.

Mr Williams, the mayor of North Shore City, told Newstalk ZB that people were forgetting the Rugby World Cup was a national event and were placing too much focus on Auckland. He said there was no need to panic as cities all over the country were preparing for next year's event.

Auckland mayor and Super City contender John Banks said he had nothing to say about Mr Williams' thoughts on party central. Another Super City mayoral contender, Manukau mayor Len Brown, is away on holiday with his family and was unable to be contacted.

- Hamish Fletcher

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