Private equity partners are starting to line up to add their financial might to bring a new entertainment and retail base - including a 35,000 seat stadium - to downtown Auckland.

The Warriors' multi-millionaire owner, Eric Watson, and his league club's naming-rights sponsor, Vodafone, are both prepared to throw in private cash.

Last week the Weekend Herald revealed the controversial waterfront stadium was back on the cards with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff commissioning a feasibility study into a new central city site costing up to $1 billion.

Eric Watson, who the 2015 NBR Rich List estimated to be worth $500 million, said the city desperately needed a centrally located stadium and confirmed he would contribute to the cost of a downtown development.


"I am prepared to be part of a private investor group that could be gathered to make a world-class retail and entertainment precinct around the stadium a reality," he told the Weekend Herald yesterday.

"Right now the alternatives are not suitable, in the wrong location and are fast becoming outdated for the population growth Auckland will face in the next 20 to 50 years."

Watson acknowledged the expense of a world-class venue and said part of the cost could be covered by the sale of Eden Park.

Eden Park is sitting on highly valuable residential land, and it appears this is the better use for it.


"The ownership structure needs to be looked at as to how the proceeds could be used but ideally it would be great to see this go into the new stadium."

Vodafone NZ also voiced its willingness to be involved.

Vodafone spokeswoman Andrea Brady said the company was "excited about the prospect and wanted to see it come to fruition".

"We want it to be the home ground of the Vodafone Warriors," she said.

Brady said she couldn't discuss the company's financial contribution until the feasibility study was complete and the stadium was a reality.

But she confirmed the company would be financially involved in some way.

"As part of sponsorship there would usually be some form of financial arrangement. It's just too early to say what that would look like."

If the stadium gets off the ground it could be New Zealand's answer to the Los Angeles-based L.A Live, a sports and entertainment district that surrounds the Staples Centre sports complex.

L.A Live cost an estimated $3.5 billion to build and was funded by private backers and taxpayer contributions.

Professor of Construction Management at AUT John Tookey said there needed to be honest debate about the true cost of the proposed Auckland stadium.

Backers of the stadium, including Goff, have stated that its construction would be reliant on private backing.

But Tookey said the current $1 billion cost estimate was "hugely conservative" and if ratepayers ended up footing the majority of the bill it equated to $2000 per household in rates.

"My biggest concern is that politicians keen to start their pet projects are low-balling costs to get the project off the ground," Tookey said.

"It's a hell of a lot of money in a environment where our infrastructure is poor."

Tookey also warned the current transport systems to the city were not even capable of servicing the proposed stadium.

"What is the priority - to have a harbour crossing fit for 100 years or a stadium which is in part bragging rights?"

Goff has stated his preference for a stadium on railway land alongside Vector Arena close to the city's main public transport and hospitality facilities.

PwC has been commissioned through the council's regional facilities arm to investigate potential sites, including a stadium on the railway land.

The study follows a decade of controversy over whether the city should abandon Eden Park, which has a 50,000 capacity, is limited to 21 night events a year and could need another $250 million spent on it over the next 15 years.

Goff said there was urgency in exploring the options for a potential Auckland stadium, but said the council needed to find non-ratepayer options to fund it.

These included contributions from major sporting codes, income from concerts, private sponsorship and selling assets, like Eden Park.

"This is not something I see as being a priority burden on ratepayers," he said in an earlier interview.

PwC had been commissioned to do a "pre-feasibility" study for a rectangular stadium with a capacity of 25,000 to 50,000 spectators.

The report is due back in the middle of the year.