In a tumultuous week for the Auckland Council, one particularly good piece of news for the people of the city slipped largely under the radar. This was the addition of 20ha to the public's sports field portfolio through the $60.7 million purchase of Colin Maiden Park, Auckland University's home of cricket and rugby. It was the classic win-win scenario, with the city gaining badly needed recreation space in St Johns and the university realising an integral part of the exit from its Tamaki campus and consolidation at Grafton and Newmarket.
In March, the university gave the council the first option to buy the park. However, the purchase was never a certainty because the university was intent on realising the highest value for its property. The potential availability of such a large slice of vacant land was always going to tweak the interest of some developers. Happily, the council's announcement terminates the possibility of the park being transformed into an area of intensive housing along the lines, perhaps, of the neighbouring Stonefields.
The council may sell three parcels of land around the park to recover the cost. What remains, however, will be part of a large sports complex also comprising the Auckland Tennis Centre, the Auckland Netball Centre, and artificial fields and an indoor arena being developed by the Oceania Football Federation - all close to the Glen Innes railway station. By any yardstick, that is an impressive sports hub. Both the immediate area and the city have reason to thank the council for this good piece of business.