Eden Park is ramping up its case for $1.5 million from ratepayers for a new playing surface on the grounds it will be around for another 10 to 15 years to benefit Aucklanders.
Eden Park Trust Board chairman Doug McKay has asked Mayor Phil Goff for the money to replace its turf in order to guarantee All Black tests and international T20 cricket matches can continue to be held in Auckland.
McKay yesterday said Eden Park is getting by "year by year" with the deteriorating turf, which, if not replaced, "would lead to an inability to continue to host international events at the required standard".
At 15 years old, the turf can only drain at 25 per cent capacity, meaning the "weather could inspire against us", McKay said.
Head groundsman Blair Christiansen said the turf was coming to the end of its useful life and the top 100mm needed replacing.
McKay has listed a number of reasons why the council should fund the new turf, including its challenging financial position after being lumbered with a $46m debt following the Rugby World Cup in 2011, and a new stadium debate eroding confidence in the park.
He is miffed at the council's refusal to relax rules for events, like concerts; and accused it of subsidising its own stadiums to pinch business away from Eden Park.
The objectives of the Eden Park Trust Deed are to run the park for rugby and cricket as well as musical and cultural events for the people of Auckland, McKay said.
The turf issue is the latest in a tense relationship between Eden Park and Auckland council sgoing back before the Super City was formed in 2010.
Auckland Council, where McKay was the first chief executive for three years, and the former Auckland City Council have not funded Eden Park, only been guarantors and underwritten loans for park improvements.
In a statement, Goff said the funding request for new turf had led to broader discussions on financial matters, which are ongoing. No final decision had been made on the turf replacement, he said.
The park has been able to pay for its running costs and interest on the $46m debt, but unable to pay depreciation costs of about $8m a year to fund the maintenance and replacement costs of its assets.
A council source said Eden Park wanted autonomy and council cash to go with it, but the council was concerned about handing over money without any accountability.