Aucklanders are being asked to embrace the name Vector Arena for the country's largest and most advanced indoor entertainment and sporting venue at Quay Park on the waterfront, due to open next March.

Giant Auckland energy company Vector yesterday announced a 10-year naming rights deal, believed to be worth millions, for the 12,200-seat arena.

Company chief executive Mark Franklin said Vector was delighted to be associated with another piece of infrastructure that would contribute to the economic, cultural and sporting vitality of the whole country.

The arena is expected to mean the end of top entertainers giving Auckland a wide berth and pack in the crowds for sports events like netball tests and basketball matches.

Like many new venues, the $80 million public-private partnership between the Auckland City Council and a Sydney company, Jacobsen Venue Management, depends on sponsorship naming rights.

Manukau's new $48 million Pacific Events Centre was made possible only with the sponsorship of TelstraClear, Wellington's Westpac Stadium has a 10-year, multimillion-dollar naming rights package, and even conservative Christchurch has got used to Lancaster Park being renamed Jade Stadium.

Westpac Stadium marketing manager Steven Thompson said the success of the name Vector Arena would depend on its being a venue Aucklanders could be proud of.

"If it starts with a hiss and a roar with great concerts and netball tests, there will be no problem."

He said the "cake tin" tag for the Westpac Stadium was an Auckland thing - Wellingtonians called it the stadium or the Westpac Stadium.

The Vector Arena is facing growing criticism from architects and politicians that the city's most significant public structure since the Aotea Centre opened in 1970 is boxed in by ugly buildings.

The Institute of Architects' urban issues group says the arena is hidden behind a "wall of mediocre" buildings and should have had space and views around it to signify its public importance.

The council said "no" to plans by the group to preserve the view to the front of the arena from Beach Rd. The view will be lost to a planned hotel.

In the past week, former Auckland City councillor Greg McKeown said the arena had been crammed into a remaining corner on the former railways land among an ugly cluster of buildings; and Auckland Regional councillor Joel Cayford said the railways land was so cut off from the rest of the city that "it risks becoming a ghetto".

Mr Franklin said Vector did not have a problem with the criticism, saying people would vote with their feet.

Arena chief executive Bruce Mactaggart said that in an ideal world it would be nice to have acres of grass in front of the arena "but I think we should be celebrating the fact we have got enough space to build something like this at international standards".

Vector Arena

Location: Quay Park, Auckland waterfront.
Completion date: March next year.
Cost: $80 million, including $70m of ratepayers' money.
Capacity: 12,200.
Entertainment: Rock concerts, ballet, opera, family shows, dance parties.
Sport: Netball, basketball, equestrian, motocross, gymnastics, boxing, tennis, wrestling, ice hockey, volleyball.
Other uses: Conventions, trade shows, banquets

Capacity of other indoor arenas

* Westpac Centre, Christchurch - 8800.
* Sydney Entertainment Centre - 12,000.
* Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne - 15,000.
* Vodafone Arena, Melbourne - 11,500.
* Adelaide Entertainment Centre - 9000.