Speedway has today talked up its move from Western Springs to a purpose-built home near Auckland Airport, saying it will be able to immediately increase the number of meetings from 12 to 16.
Speedway Promotions Bill Buckley told Auckland councillors this morning he loved the natural amphitheatre of Western Springs, but the sport was under pressure because of safety issues, noise restrictions and costs of $30 million to $40m to upgrade its home of nearly 90 years.
"We have got to solve this and push ahead. Speedway is a big sport in Auckland and brings huge wealth to the city," Buckley said at a finance committee meeting.
Under an agreement with the council, at the end of summer 2019-20, speedway will move to Colin Dale Motorsport Park in Wiri, east of the airport.
The precinct is already used for off-road racing, karting, BMX, motocross, remote-controlled racing and jetsprint.
Mayor Phil Goff has said the council would make a "big contribution" to the cost of moving speedway, which was "probably $12 or $13 million". He said about $5m would come from Regional Facilities Auckland, which manages the region's sports and cultural facilities, and $5m from the council.
The agreement breaks a deadlock between the Auckland Council and Speedway Promotions and allows the council to go ahead with its new major stadiums strategy.
Western Springs is proposed as the home for all forms of cricket, with a new oval playing field and new stands. It would remain a venue for concerts and the home of the Ponsonby Rugby Football Club, and also become a base for Australian Rules football.
Just three months ago, speedway was pushing to stay at Western Springs. Speedway Promotions co-director Greg Mosen said: "Our first priority is to stay at the Springs. We are happy and we are complying with the Environment Court's restrictions."
Speedway hired public relations firm Sherson Willis to lobby councillors and Mosen was confident of "resounding support" to leave Western Springs alone and rethink the stadium strategy.
Buckley denied questions from councillors it was moving after pressure from council's regional facilities arm, saying the sport wanted out with the restrictions at Western Springs, including being limited to 12 meetings a year.
Its lease at the park is due to expire next year, so the company went back to the council to reopen negotiations.
Representatives of the Tāmaki-Maungakiekie Local Board expressed concern about a sudden change of mind from RFA to upgrade Waikaraka Park to a motorsport park and go with Colin Dale Park.
Board member Debbie Burrows said RFA came to them with concept designs and costings for upgrading Waikaraka Park, but had changed its mind overnight.