Eden Park is seeking blanket approval to hold up to six concerts a year without having to go through the rigmarole of getting approval one concert at a time.

Eden Park Trust chairman Doug McKay said it had struggled to seek approval for a single concert because it cost more than $100,000, takes 18 months and promoters cannot be signed up with that kind of uncertainty.

The trust has long wanted to hold concerts to improve its financial position, but struggled against local opposition from suburban neighbours and stringent planning conditions.

READ MORE:
Auckland Council approves $63 million bailout for Eden Park
Stay calm and carry on because Eden Park is the charm: The All Blacks last lost there in 1994 when the world was a different kind of weird
Premium - A field of dreams: The future of Eden Park
Premium - Eden Park neighbours give thumbs up to Sunday night cricket - and maybe concerts

Advertisement

Auckland Council's Unitary Plan allows Eden Park to hold up to six concerts a year.

"We need to know we have the approval for what we are entitled to. We just want to clarify the approvals for six and then we can go to promoters. Certainty is what we are about," McKay said.

The trust plans to put in an application with Auckland Council by the end of November and will ask for the process to be publicly notified. A decision could take up to a year, McKay said.

The council will review the application, which could be heard by independent commissioners. Alternatively, it could go straight to the Environment Court to skip the likelihood of appeals to the court.

McKay said the biggest issue with the application will be noise "and we understand that" with other factors already dealt with, such as traffic management plans.

Eden Park Trust chairman Doug McKay. Photo / Herald
Eden Park Trust chairman Doug McKay. Photo / Herald

If the trust gets blanket approval for six concerts, it will be in direct competition with Auckland Council's events arm Regional Facilities Auckland, which stages most big outdoor concerts at Mt Smart Stadium and Western Springs.

McKay said competition was a good thing, but he believed Eden Park would offer a far better experience for fans and people who have bought seats and corporate boxes.

"Eden Park is well equipped for big crowds, better toilet facilities, better food facilities, better public transport access. Two thirds of the people in the stadium will be covered ... it will be a wonderful experience for Auckland."

Last year, Auckland Council provided a $63 million rescue package to Eden Park, including taking over a $40m loan and providing nearly $10m for urgent upgrades and maintenance, including a new turf.

Advertisement

A report by EY this year painted a dire picture for the city's premier stadium, saying it could run up losses of $80m over the next 10 years.

Nicholas Albrecht, who chairs Auckland Cricket and a member of the Eden Park Trust, said Auckland Cricket supports the strategy of applying to stage up to six concerts in a year.

"This will help to make Eden Park financially sustainable. Auckland Cricket has rights under the Eden Park Trust Act and Eden Park has been the home of the Auckland Cricket Association since 1912," he said.

Mark Donnelly, who heads the Eden Park Neighbours' Association (EPNA), said the park was not suitable for concerts, which, he said, have been declined multiple times in the past.

"Each concert would bring two-to-three weeks of major noise and disruption, which would force cricket and other sporting users out, and impact local residents and businesses.

"Six concerts would take three-to-four months out of the cricket season."

Donnelly said the EPNA was surprised the trustees and cricket have agreed to the blanket application.

The Unitary Plan prevents them undermining rugby and cricket like that, Donnelly said.

Mayor Phil Goff said Under the Unitary Plan, Eden Park already has the right to hold up to six concerts a year.

"A bulk approval makes financial sense for the venue, but that will need to be balanced against the views and needs of Aucklanders. I welcome Eden Park Trust's plan to seek a notified consent, to ensure Aucklanders, particularly residents in proximity to the park, can have their say.

"The trust will go through the process like anyone else - by making the application and having it assessed on its merits and subject to the relevant legislation and rules."

Goff was unconcerned about Eden Park competing with Regional Facilities to stage big concerts, saying the council-controlled organisation already competes with venues across the city and country for events and concerts.

"That would continue to be the case should Eden Park secure a bulk consent."

Local councillor Chris Fletcher supports Eden Park Trust's bid for blanket approval of up to six concerts.
Local councillor Chris Fletcher supports Eden Park Trust's bid for blanket approval of up to six concerts.

Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa councillor Chris Fletcher supports Eden Park's bid for blanket approval for up to six concerts, saying from a planning perspective it needs to know in advance so it can secure concerts.

"My support is around the number of concerts provided for in the Unitary Plan. The advantage of that is financial sustainability for Eden Park.

"Council can't keep bailing out Eden Park when it has the ability to generate the resources it needs for its ongoing operation."

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, a Mt Eden resident who objected to a fundraising concert at Eden Park this year, said she was unaware of the trust's plan for blanket approval of concerts and had no comment.

Meanwhile, Eden Park has been granted consent today by a panel of independent commissioners to hold a 20/20 match between the Black Caps and India on January 26 next year.

The match will be held on India's Republic Day and the Sunday of Auckland Anniversary weekend. The consent was needed because Eden Park cannot hold night-time fixtures on a Sunday.

"Cricket has been a staple at the Park since 1903 so it's reassuring there is vast support in the community for our team to continue to deliver these unforgettable matches," said Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner.

Public submissions were 97 per cent in favour of the event.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said everyone was a winner - Eden Park, cricket and the fans - who will be part of a special occasion.