'Cloud' may be a white elephant after the Cup

By Bernard Orsman

The Cloud has an uncertain future. Photo / Richard Robinson
The Cloud has an uncertain future. Photo / Richard Robinson

Auckland could find itself with too many waterfront venues and not enough events to fill them when the hoop-la of the Rugby World Cup is over.

The $32 million Viaduct Events Centre faces competition from two venues at Party Central on Queens Wharf - the $9.8 million Cloud and the refurbished century-old Shed 10.

Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell said the council-owned body was wrestling with the issue of "balancing" events and activities at the three venues once the cup was over.

It would be no use having the 178m prefabricated Cloud if the purpose-built Viaduct Events Centre could not be filled, he said.

Adding to the problems are what to do with Shed 10 for the 200 days of the year it will not be used for a cruise ship terminal.

"There is only so much activity in terms of people wanting to use the space [on Queens Wharf] for markets, Melbourne Cup function days or exhibitions," Mr Dalzell said.

The Cloud is a Government-funded project that Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully has said the Auckland Council can have "for as long as they need it".

Waterfront Auckland chairman Bob Harvey said the temporary structure could stay on Queens Wharf for up to 15 years, while Auckland Mayor Len Brown is waiting until after the cup to determine its future. The venue could cost about $1.4 million a year to run.

One option is to move it to Christchurch as an indoor venue in the quake-damaged city.

The Viaduct Events Centre, at the end of Halsey St, with its undulating, wave-like roof, opens next month.

Its first major event is the Auckland Art Fair, followed by New Zealand Fashion Week. It will host the Boat Show and other marine events.

Mr Dalzell said that if the Cloud did stay, the big question was for how long and how it would work with other facilities.

"We have invested money in these legacy projects so we need to make them work, but at the same time we don't want to displace activities from other areas.

"The only way you will get the balance right is being able to consider the whole of the waterfront, not just the development aspects but how it is managed, used and activated."

The future of Queens Wharf will be a key issue in a draft waterfront masterplan that goes out for public consultation in September.

Another consideration is who will manage the different venues.

Waterfront Auckland is overseeing the development of the waterfront, but Regional Facilities Auckland has the job of running the Viaduct Events Centre, another council-owned body, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, has an interest and Ports of Auckland has a role with the cruise ship terminal.

ADDING IT UP

* $32m Viaduct Events Centre.

* $9.8m Cloud on Queens Wharf.

* $1.4m a year to run the Cloud.

* 200 days a year it will not be used as a cruise ship terminal.

- NZ Herald

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