The idea of a national sports stadium in downtown Auckland is not going away. New mayor Phil Goff has wasted no time resurrecting the concept put to Auckland by his colleague in the previous Labour Government, Trevor Mallard, for the 2011 World Cup.

His "waterfront stadium" was not so much on the waterfront as on the water, envisaged straddling the old central wharfs.

It was roundly rejected by local polls, by the Herald and, decisively, by the former Auckland Regional Council. But the former Auckland City Council was keen and so was the Herald on Sunday. Goff's preference is not for a stadium over the water, he prefers a site on the previous railway yards near Vector Arena.

That site certainly has much to recommend it. Trains could deliver crowds right to the stadium. Vector Arena itself could be linked with it to form an integrated sports and concert complex.


Vector for indoor events, the stadium under the stars.

But first, a feasibility study is under way by PWC for Regional Facilities Auckland, an arm of the Auckland Council. They are looking at a $1 billion project but the crucial questions are, how big can it be and who will pay for it?

If it is a 25,000-seat stadium like Wellington's Cake Tin, rugby will still need Eden Park for test matches. If a downtown stadium is built for 50,000 people, Eden Park will be redundant and its site could be sold to help pay for a monster in the CBD.

Goff happily contemplated demolishing Eden Park, which apparently needs another $250 million spent on it so soon after the upgrade it received at public expense for the World Cup.

Eden Park has a lot of heritage for Auckland to lose but it is simply in the wrong place. Major stadiums within walking distance of the hotels, restaurants and other attractions of city centres are an important component of successful modern cities. Auckland has more stadiums than it needs, built by its previous councils. None of them are in the central city.

The Super City should not do a half-sized stadium, it should not settle for a Cake Tin. The project must be done well or not at all.

A behemoth on the railway site would be less obtrusive than on the waterfront but it would still stand out in lower Parnell and possibly require realigning The Strand. But it would be worth it. Now where is the money?