Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has lost control of the city's stadium strategy after suffering a defeat at the hands of council critics yesterday.
In a surprise move, the council's "B" team won a vote to defer relocating speedway from Western Springs to consider the city's wider stadium strategy.
The vote is a big blow for Goff, who hoped to get approval for a new plan to move speedway to Colin Dale Park, near Auckland Airport.
There is nowhere more central and Western Springs is the perfect location. It is world renowned
That plan is now up in the air while there is a wider political discussion about Auckland's stadiums, including the future of Eden Park and a waterfront stadium.
The motion by councillor Cathy Casey to defer work on moving speedway was passed by 11 votes to 10.
It is a big victory for the "B" team of councillors, who regularly oppose and lose to Goff's so-called "A" team. Yesterday, a member of the "A" team, Desley Simpson, switched sides and new Howick councillor Paul Young voted for the motion.
Most of the councillors who voted to defer the move signed a letter in June criticising Goff's leadership over access to a PwC pre-feasibility report into a central city stadium. Now, those same councillors, are a powerful bloc in shaping the city's stadium strategy.
After the cost of moving speedway to Colin Dale Park blew out to $30 million in a report last week, Goff presented a new plan at today's finance and performance committee costing ratepayers $19m.
The plan included $8.9m for wider works at Colin Dale Park where seven other sporting facilities are setting up and a cap of $10m for a speedway track and other works.
Speedway Promotions Ltd, which runs speedway at Western Springs, has agreed to put up $10m towards the new speedway track at Colin Dale Park.
The plan prompted a long and often heated debate at the Auckland Town Hall. Divisions within the speedway fraternity were laid bare during public presentations to the committee.
Goff sold the plan in terms of doing something at Colin Dale Park after years of nothing happening and being approached by Springs Promotions Ltd and being told Western Springs is no longer fit for purpose and most drivers want to move.
"Let's get on and do it. This decision does not rely on Eden Park or a downtown stadium. It is quite separate and can be taken on its own merits," Goff said.
Following the meeting, Goff said in a brief statement he understood councillors wanted to see a wider picture before making a final decision on speedway.
He was pleased a motion for wider works at Colin Dale Park had passed.
Behind the bad process is bad politics, said councillor Mike Lee, who along with Casey was shocked to see a senior council officer, Auckland Investment Office director John Duncan, table a crash helmet signed by 65 teams in support of moving to Colin Dale Park.
Instead of getting contestable advice to make a decision, Lee said, councillors were "getting a petition by crash helmet".
Several councillors, including Lee, John Watson and Daniel Newman, said the real agenda by the council's regional facilities arm is to get speedway out of Western Springs to build a National Cricket Ground, costed up to $70m.
"What a debacle," murmured Simpson at one point.
Councillors heard mixed views from speedway advocates and fans on the planned move from Western Springs to Colin Dale Park.
Longtime Speedway fan and businessman Danny Lendich said Colin Dale had absolutely nothing going for it.
"There is nowhere more central and Western Springs is the perfect location. It is world renowned," he said.
Graham Standring, a former speedway driver who has been inducted in the Speedway Hall of Fame, said the time has come for the sport to move to Colin Dale Park.
He said it was not longer safe to race at Western Springs and moving to Colin Dale Park would allow for a wider and better track. Most drivers wanted to move, he said.
Councillors also heard from a public relations consultant, Steve Deane, representing an "active and growing" numbers of stakeholders who want the decision to move from Western Springs deferred until more information is available.
How they voted:
To defer work for more work on the wider stadium strategy
*Maori Statutory Board member