Eden Park is getting by "year by year", with a deteriorating playing surface that needs replacing, says Eden Park Trust Board chairman Doug McKay.

The park has asked Auckland Council for $1.5 million to replace its turf in order to guarantee All Black tests and international T20 cricket matches can continue to be held in Auckland.

Speaking from overseas, McKay today said the turf, which was installed in 2003 and had a warranty of seven to nine years, was now draining at 25 per cent of its capacity.

Our first request was clear and full. With time risks just go up

"It is the oldest turf in the world for a major stadium," he said.


McKay said the turf was only being "kept alive" because of the skill and craftsmanship of head groundsman Blair Christiansen.

"If the weather conspired against us it could be very troublesome," said McKay, saying it was a "line call" to hold a T20 cricket international between the Black Caps and South Africa last year when it rained three days beforehand and during the morning before the game.

Mayor Phil Goff last year received a funding request from the board to replace the turf. He was told it was at the end of its useful life and at risk of failure, but did not put the matter before the council.

In a statement yesterday, Goff said the request to consider council funding for turf replacement at Eden Park had to led to broader discussions on financial matters related to the park, which are ongoing.

"No final decision has been made on the turf replacement," Goff said.

McKay today said he was very pleased to hear the council was looking at the broader funding issues at Eden Park, but was unsure where things were at.

He said discussion with the council had been a "long-winded conversation".

"Eden Park is going to be around for 10 to 15 years, maybe longer. My jobs is to ensure the park is financially sustainable and can continue to operate."

Asked what Eden Park wanted from the council, he said to help financially, like it does with its own stadiums, and/or allow the park to take care of its own destiny to better utilise the stadium.


Eden Park has long wanted the council to relax planning restrictions that limit the number of events and hold concerts in the suburban neighbourhood.

"Our first request was clear and full. With time risks just go up," said McKay when asked if another funding request would be made.

Eden Park Trust Board chairman Doug McKay.
Eden Park Trust Board chairman Doug McKay.

In March last year McKay said:"Continuation of the status quo would lead to an inability to continue to host international events at the required standard."

McKay said Eden Park was not in a position to fund the $1.5m cost of a new turf given the debt it was left with following the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and the council's refusal to relax planning constraints limiting its ability to generate new revenue.

Another issue holding back Eden Park, McKay told Goff, was the "unintended consequences of the new stadium debate led by you" eroding confidence in the future of the park.

"Ultimately Eden Park is at risk of reputational and economic damage should a major event, such as an All Black test, be affected - delayed, interrupted or cancelled - due to a failure of the turf," he said.

Auckland Council does not own Eden Park or provide funding, but has underwritten a $40m loan for completing the Rugby World Cup upgrade and holds an outstanding loan of $6.5m going back to work on the ASB Stand.

Auckland councillor Daniel Newman.
Auckland councillor Daniel Newman.

Councillors Daniel Newman and Chris Fletcher believe there is a strong case for the council contributing to replace the turf at Eden Park and criticised the mayor for not bringing the request to the council for debate and oversight.

"I just don't like secrecy and it irritates the heck out of me that this matter was not put before councillors," Fletcher said.

Newman said he did not want to throw Eden Park under the bus, saying the council has a moral obligation to help it be as commercially viable as it can be.