Larry Williams: Demolish Eden Park and Mt Smart

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Listen to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB, 4pm to 7pm. Today he looks at proposals for a waterfront stadium.
Artist impression of a waterfront stadium in Auckland. Image / Herald graphic
Artist impression of a waterfront stadium in Auckland. Image / Herald graphic

A new stadium on Auckland's waterfront continues to gather momentum.

The latest support for a waterfront stadium is the Blues franchise who say they would move away from Eden Park. Simply, that makes sense when you look at the small attendance numbers for the Blues games.

The interesting thing about the latest push for a waterfront stadium is that we are being told that private funding can more or less get the stadium built.

This is good, because stadiums are sinking holes. Stadiums rarely make money. Eden Park is a financial basket case. Ratepayers should not be left to fund the ongoing costs on any new stadium.

Until we see the colour of the private investors money, the jury is out. However it is reasonable to expect some public money going into a new stadium for very good reasons.

At the Commonwealth Games in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur I asked Victoria Premier Jeff Kennett what the rationale was on spending huge sums on sports stadiums in Melbourne. His answer was telling. Kennett said, "It's not a cost, it's an investment in the future of the city". Kennett believed there was an obligation to the future of Melbourne to invest in sport stadiums.

You will note that today, Melbourne is the envy of the world with state of the art sports stadiums downtown - close to public transport, restaurants, bars, entertainment. It's history, but what a great shame that councillors and the self-centred, agenda-driven Eden Park lobby rejected its obligation to the future of Auckland when they had the chance.

Rejecting a waterfront stadium offered on a plate for the 2011 Rugby World Cup lacked foresight. It was an appalling decision.

To my mind, a stadium that has architectural merit for around 30,000 people on the waterfront is logical and exciting. Demolish Eden Park and Mt Smart and sell the land for houses.

A stadium on the waterfront is an investment in the future of the city. It's inevitable, the longer the delay, the greater the cost. Local politicians need to make this happen.

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