After 53 years as the venue for the Easter Show and recent events ranging from the Bride and Groom Show to Big Boys' Toys, the newly named ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane is being redeveloped at a cost of $26 million.

The hotchpotch of buildings, which includes a former pig, cattle and sheep pavilion, are being replaced with a single modern facility that will have 50 per cent more exhibition space capable of attracting word-class shows, events and exhibitions.

The first stage is under way to complete a new entrance, food courts, wine bar, function rooms and extensions to two exhibition halls in time for the Royal Easter Show in April.

The second stage will involve demolishing all of one hall and part of another to create a main 6000sq m hall.

When the project is completed in April next year, the exhibition space will have increased to 18,000sq m, with greater flexibility and user-friendly facilities.

Half the $26 million cost is coming from the showgrounds organisation. Auckland City Council is pitching in $5 million and the ASB Bank has contributed an unnamed sum to buy the naming rights for 10 years.

Showgrounds chairman Bob Tilsley said $5 million to $7 million still had to be raised but he was confident it would be found.

Showgrounds chief executive Mark Frankham said the redevelopment was needed to retain the showgrounds' position as the country's premier exhibition centre and compete with overseas venues.

The Auckland Showgrounds were established on Green Lane West in 1910 on land gifted to the city by Sir John Logan Campbell.

The Easter agricultural and pastoral show, first held in 1843, moved to the showgrounds in 1953.

The showgrounds' governing body, the Auckland Agricultural Pastoral and Industrial Shows Board, leases the land from the owner, the Cornwall Park Trust Board.

ASB managing director Hugh Burrett said the sponsorship was the most significant the bank had made to an existing landmark.

Other Auckland facilities the bank has attached its name to include the ASB Stadium at Kohimarama, ASB Tennis Centre in Stanley St and the ASB Stand at Eden Park.

Mayor Dick Hubbard said the council was putting its money where its mouth was to assist in an upgrade that would provide considerable economic benefits to the city.

"Encouraging the development of world-class venues and outdoor spaces allows us to host international events which demonstrate Auckland's potential to a global audience."

By 2010, the expanded facilities are expected to contribute $110 million a year to the Auckland economy - almost double the present figure.


Busy venue

* Last year the showgrounds hosted more than 140 events and exhibitions and had more than 1.2 million visitors.
* The Royal Easter Show attracted 80,000 people.