Plans for a new national stadium sunken into the Auckland waterfront could include a cultural centre and Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium relocated into the basement, Auckland councillors heard today.
Members of the Auckland Waterfront Consortium presented plans for the stadium to the council's planning committee.
Richard Goldie, of Peddle Thorp Architects, said the consortium was "genuinely excited" about the stadium, saying it was proposed on the most important piece of local geography and had to be something that Aucklanders and their children could be proud of.
Asked by planning committee chairman Chris Darby about the inward looking nature of stadiums, Goldie said for every two hours in the stadium, people would spend six hours in the city.
Most stadiums were 60m to 80m high and mostly dead, but the waterfront stadium would be like an urban beach "where I can see myself wandering down to and swimming off", Goldie said.
The stadium will cost $1.8 billion and could be built within 10 years at zero cost to ratepayers and taxpayers, says the Auckland Waterfront Consortium.
The "spectacular landmark" is the most serious proposal for a waterfront stadium since the hotly debated proposal for a Government-funded stadium for the 2011 Rugby World Cup was rejected by local politicians in 2006.
The fully enclosed stadium would seat 50,000 spectators for rugby, league, football, concerts and cultural events, and capable of being increased to 65,000 seats for major events like another Rugby World Cup.
Cricket will be played on a new oval tentatively planned by Auckland Council's facilities arm at Western Springs.
The stadium will be built alongside a redeveloped Bledisloe Wharf at Ports of Auckland, partly sunk on reclaimed land and partly sunk into the seabed about 28m below sea level.
Other features are a floating roof above sea level to reduce the loss of harbour views and the removal of Captain Cook Wharf, currently used for car imports.
The consortium said the sunken stadium will be designed and built to accepted seismic principles and modelling to protect against rising sea levels and tsunamis.
Tau Henare, a member of the Maori Statutory Board who sits on the planning committee, said he was an "absolute supporter" of the proposed stadium, but like his follow Maori Statutory Board member, Liane Ngamane, and councillor Richard Hills, was interested in engagement and involvement of mana whenua.
Consortium chairman Dave Wigmore said they had taken advice on the best way to facilitate with mana whenua and saw an opportunity for a waterfront cultural centre.
Kelly Tarlton's could also relocate to the basement of the stadium, he said.
Other councillors raised issues around the loss of jobs by moving the port and what will happen to Eden Park, where the consortium plans to build 2500 homes for 6000 residents.
Papakura-Manurewa councillor Daniel Newman wanted to know what to tell "blue collar" workers in his ward whose jobs could be on the line.
Sage said the consortium was at the meeting to ask council to enter into an agreement with council to test the proposal over the next 12 to 18 months.
Darby said on November 27 the planning committee will discuss a refresh of the city centre and waterfront master plans. The Government's Upper North Island port study is also due to report early next year, he said.
Wigmore said the consortium wanted to run its work in parallel with those Government and council workstreams.