Secret plans to build a new stadium on Auckland's waterfront have been met by long-standing opposition.

The plan, put forward by a private sector consortium of local businesses, is to build a stadium on Bledisloe Wharf.

However, the idea to build a waterfront sports stadium is not a new one, with the idea having been floated around since the early 2000s and resurrecting before the Rugby World Cup.

Each time the issue has arisen, the idea has been shot down due to substantial costs associated and a failure to find agreement.


A recent pre-feasibility study conducted by consulting firm PwC estimated it would cost between $1.1 billion and $1.5b to build the stadium in downtown Auckland.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said earlier this year that there is no money in the 10-year budget for the stadium, but there could be funding when the budget is renewed in three years.

Despite new proposed investment by the private sector, two fixed opponents to the stadium told the Herald their stance hadn't changed.

Albany Ward Councillor John Watson said while the idea might sound exciting or attractive, the practicality is that it would be very expensive and very disruptive.

"Any location in downtown is not without its challenges. The first thing people have questioned in the past is whether it is really the best use of prime waterfront land," he said.

"To have a big stadium lying idle for 330 days of the year, as stadiums inevitably do - is that the best use of that prime land?"

Albany Ward Councillor John Watson of Auckland City Council. Photo / Nick Reed
Albany Ward Councillor John Watson of Auckland City Council. Photo / Nick Reed

Watson said the other thing that he would be asking is what does it mean for Auckland's other stadiums.

"Auckland has invested a massive amount of money in its existing stadiums, not least of which is Eden Park," he said.


"Eden Park has been rebuilt in its entirety since the early 2000s, and $256 million was spent just before the Rugby World Cup.

"What has been made very clear in the past, by the mayor in particular, is that the plan would be to bowl Eden park – so a downtown stadium would come at the expense of Eden Park which is basically New Zealand's last iconic stadium."

Watson said information released on the new plan lacked any detail as to the exact location or the anticipated cost.

"I say that because it is very unusual for stadiums around the world to proceed without some element of input from the public," he said.

"As we are finding out with the City Rail Link, is that often these figures are low balled- so they come in at a quote that seems doable and then inevitably there is all the massive big add ons.

"In terms of the waterfront there is obviously some complications with respect of roading infrastructure and conceivably even the rail network."

AUT Professor John Tookey, Deputy Head of School of Engineering. Photo / Supplied
AUT Professor John Tookey, Deputy Head of School of Engineering. Photo / Supplied

Watson believes Auckland's priorities need to remain focused elsewhere.

"In terms of fixing ailing infrastructure, whether it is roading or storm water or any number of other things," he said.

"Is a big glittery stadium down on the waterfront really our number one priority at the moment? I think a lot of people would say no."

Auckland University of Technology deputy head of engineering Professor John Tookey said he had no issue with the private sector "coming to the party with a bucket load of cash" but there were other issues to be addressed.

"Irrespective of it being a undertaking by a private consortium, it has an enormous collateral impact upon the surrounding neighbours and everything else associated with the location," he said.

"We are going to have to re-engineer the road system and all the other transportation network that goes around that location.

"It is an enormous undertaking and there are huge collateral consequences associated with just the amount of traffic around game time. "

Tookey said plans also needed to address what would happen with the consortium goes belly up part way through.

"What does that mean council is on the hook for, because if they go belly up halfway through we are still going to have to make good one way or another," he said.

"Broadly I have no problem with private money paying for something like that, it is just the problems that come with it.

"I am not a killjoy, this is not a rain on the parade exercise. I am a realist and if you want to have a new train set and a new landmark building in Auckland, there is a real expenditure associated with it."