Auckland rugby looks at new home

By Campbell Burnes

Waitakere Stadium may replace Eden Park.

Andy Dalton.
Andy Dalton.

The Auckland Rugby Union is looking at the possibility of shifting their ITM Cup home games away from Eden Park as paltry crowds hit them financially.

Auckland Rugby has been an official tenant of Eden Park since 1925 and historically has always been associated with the ground and sporting success there.

While nothing has been formally tabled, and all five home ITM games this year will take place at Eden Park, the Herald understands there is a growing feeling that a venue such as Waitakere's Trusts Stadium would be more suitable from 2015 or 2016.

That stadium would comfortably fit the 4550 average (2013) Auckland crowd, though its lights are deemed to be below the requisite quality.

Western Springs would not have the desired infrastructure, and alternative options could be Eden Park's Outer Oval, despite its current cricket status, or the Warriors' home Mt Smart, where Auckland did play in 1994 because of ground work at Eden Park.

There was a time when Auckland Rugby had to pay as much as $30,000 a game to the Eden Park Trust, which owns and administers the ground.

While that figure is now much lower, it is still an expensive exercise when the break-even crowd figure is believed to be close to 10,000.

Auckland Rugby chief executive Andy Dalton says his organisation has an open mind, but is going nowhere at this stage.

"It's still the historical home of Auckland rugby and provided we get cost-effective venue hire, we can make it work.

"We'd have to have a good reason to move, but it is an expensive venue. The crowds are down from 10 years ago, so we need to have a look at this," he said.

Eden Park Trust chief executive David Kennedy is not counting on losing one of its major tenants any time soon, especially as it is exploring revenue options to help pay for the ground.

He confirmed that there had been no discussions with Auckland Rugby over any future shift.

"We have a broad agreement with Auckland Rugby and work closely with them all the time over the ground use and helping reduce costs for each game."

- NZ Herald

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