The Tongan-American NFL group hoping to buy the Warriors intend to build their own stadium — and would even look at funding the mooted downtown Auckland stadium if the numbers stack up.
Hawaii politician Richard Fale, head of the consortium which includes six current and former NFL players, says they have already had discussions with global investment bankers Goldman Sachs regarding stadium options for the NRL franchise.
The stadium plans are the latest revelations from the ambitious Fale, who arrived in Auckland on Friday night. In an exclusive interview with the Herald on Sunday, Fale revealed:
● His group have already looked at land near the airport as a potential site for a new Warriors stadium.
● They have also discussed acquiring Mt Smart Stadium.
● His representatives are here to conduct due diligence on the Warriors during the next seven days, before finalising a deal.
● In a quirky touch, Fale and his team also intend to go door-knocking on random streets around the city, to gauge the feeling about the Warriors "on the ground".
The Eagles have landed. After flying from Hawaii late on Friday night, Fale and his team spent the morning yesterday at Ngati Otara Park in South Auckland, taking in the action at the Oceania Junior Tag nationals.
It's part of his plan to assess the wider landscape here, as his consortium reaches the final stage of their ambitious acquisition process.
The stadium ownership model is a foreign concept in Australasian sport, but a key plank of their proposal.
It could be that we build the whole thing [downtown stadium] ourselves.
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"We would either acquire or build our own facility," said Fale. "That instantly adds huge value to your organisation. It might be unusual here but look at what everyone else is doing. Look at the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots. The Cowboys have built a mall into their stadium, figured out a year-round multi-dimensional use of their facility. We want people to say: 'Oh the Warriors stadium? They have a food court there ... let's go eat lunch there then take a look at whatever else they have there'."
Fale's group has engaged Goldman Sachs (the investment banking company with assets of more than US$860 billion) to look into the merits of the proposed Auckland downtown stadium.
"We have heard all that talk about the stadium in the downtown area," said Fale.
"We have talked to people over at Goldman Sachs and maybe we bring in a team from there because they are definitely more than interested in financing it, if it turns out to be as lucrative and productive an operation as other facilities have been.
"It could be that we build the whole thing [downtown stadium] ourselves. We know that Auckland has the population base to make it work."
Fale's team will be here for two weeks, to "plough through the books" and make sure everything stacks up within the franchise.
"All the conversations we have had, we love everything that we are seeing and we are here to verify that everything stacks up," said Fale.
"We will get a very clear picture over the next seven days of whether we are going to sign. If there were any deal-breaking problems, they are going to be discovered ... then we will start drafting the final agreement.
"The numbers have to line up, with a model that is sustainable and commercially viable. Otherwise the ship is going to sink.
"If we confirm that everything reflects what we have been told, then we'll say 'okay, here's the dotted line. Let's sign. Have a nice day.'"
Fale is also here to meet the people. There were some brief hellos at Ngati Otara Park yesterday ("I'm a bit disappointed about the lack of Warriors jerseys here," he joked) but he has a radical and unusual plan to engage the heartland next week.
"We are going to pick a few random streets and knock on doors," said Fale. "I want to go to some houses and talk to people about the Warriors.
"What do people think about them? What do they mean to you? We'll listen, then we will say 'Here are some of our thoughts, what do you think?' If we don't understand our fans — and engage them — we don't have a business."