Eden Park asked for $1.5 million to replace its deteriorating playing surface in order to guarantee All Black tests and international T20 cricket matches can continue to be held in Auckland.

Mayor Phil Goff last year received a funding request from the Eden Park Trust Board to replace the turf, which is at the end of its useful life and at risk of failure, but did not put it before the council.

In March last year, board chairman Doug McKay wrote to Goff explaining the T20 cricket international between the Black Caps and South Africa nearly got called off due to the state of the turf.

Ultimately Eden Park is at risk of reputational and economic damage should a major event, such as an All Black test, be affected - delayed, interrupted or cancelled - due to a failure of the turf

SHARE THIS QUOTE:

He described it as a "near-miss situation which could have led to the same outcome as in Napier". The failure to remove sufficient rainfall at McLean Park in Napier led to the abandonment of a T20 international last year and a subsequent match relocated to Hamilton, he said.

Advertisement

"Continuation of the status quo would lead to an inability to continue to host international events at the required standard," he said in the letter."

The Herald understands McKay planned to make a fresh request for funding to councillors after last year's request to Goff did not go to council for a decision.

In the letter, McKay said Eden Park was not in a position to fund the $1.5m cost of a new turf given the debt it was left with following the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and council's refusal to relax planning constraints limiting its ability to generate new revenue.

Another limitation on Eden Park, McKay told Goff, was the "unintended consequences of the new stadium debate led by you" eroding confidence in the future of the park.

Auckland Council did not own Eden Park or provide funding, but had underwritten a $40 million loan for completing the Rugby World Cup upgrade and held an outstanding loan of $6.5m going back to work on the ASB Stand.

McKay said the park's turf team had done an outstanding job of managing the turf, which was laid in 2003 with a lifespan of 10 years, but said there was a growing risk of failure due to the schedule of events and natural deterioration of the sub-structure.

"Ultimately Eden Park is at risk of reputational and economic damage should a major event, such as an All Black test, be affected - delayed, interrupted or cancelled - due to a failure of the turf," said McKay.

In a subsequent letter to Goff in December last year, McKay said former Eden Park chief executive Guy Ngata was advised by telephone that council would not be supporting the turf project.

He recalled Goff had suggested in conversations that the trust should use profits from the Lions Test series to fund the project, but that would leave little in reserve for other contingencies.

In a statement, Goff said the request to consider council funding for turf replacement at Eden Park had to led to broader discussions on financial matters related to the park, which are ongoing.

"No final decision has been made on the turf replacement," Goff said.

Councillors Daniel Newman and Chris Fletcher believed there was a strong case for council contributing to replace the turf at Eden Park and criticised the mayor for not bringing the request to council for debate and oversight.

"I just don't like secrecy and it irritates the heck out of me that this matter was not put before councillors," Fletcher said.

Newman said he did not want to throw Eden Park under the bus, saying the council had a moral obligation to help it be as commercially viable as it could be.

McKay has been approached for comment.