The consortium that wants to build a national stadium on the seabed next to Bledisloe Wharf has released a new image of how it might look. The scheme will be presented to Auckland Council this morning. The image is a foreshortened perspective of the whole central city, showing the stadium dominating the waterfront, lit from within. Building shapes are shown on Bledisloe Wharf next to the stadium, higher at the Quay St end and lowering in height to a headland park at the north end of the wharf. These shapes are indicative only – the buildings are proposed as mixed use, commercial and residential, but they have not been designed.
The new image shows the city with its evening lights ablaze. None of the other construction work happening in Auckland over the next 10 years is shown.
The presentation will be at a scheduled meeting of the planning committee, which includes all councillors and two members of the Independent Māori Statutory Board. It's the first chance councillors have had to ask questions about the proposal and to publicly express their own views.
They are expected to quiz the consortium on a number of issues. The engineering challenges and the threat of climate change to a building sunk into the water will be high on the list.
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So will cost. The consortium has claimed the stadium will be cost-free to ratepayers and taxpayers, but it involves handing over publicly owned land for private development, which carries a substantial opportunity cost. What else could that land be used for? What ongoing liabilities might the council have to confront if the project gets into trouble?
Iwi have not been involved in the proposal to date and some committee members are likely to ask why.
There is also debate over how often such a stadium would be used, whether we need a new stadium at all, whether the waterfront is the best place for it, and the impact of the other buildings on Bledisloe Wharf.
Councillors may note that the proposal contradicts the waterfront plans of both the council and Ports of Auckland, which themselves do not fully align.
They may also note that the future of the entire port operation is far from settled. An earlier proposal by Archimedia for the port to be shifted to a new location and a stadium to be built next to the Spark Arena is still on the table.