The Blues could be trotting off to Alexandra Park where they will establish their new training base and headquarters, possibly by as early as November.
The Herald on Sunday understands the Blues will go public with details of their plans in the next fortnight. It means their current training base at Unitec, where they have been based since 2006, is on borrowed time.
Talk of a shift has been in the air for several months, but the Blues are seeing out the final year of their existing contract with Unitec - a base that, while not exactly spartan, is increasingly seen as an anachronism, not up to scratch for a high-performance sporting organisation. It's an issue which has been vexing the Blues for nigh on a decade as they search for a top-quality home to match their on-field ambitions. They are seen as the poor cousins when their facilities are compared to other Super Rugby franchises in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
It appears the Blues will base themselves in a yet-to-be-built, state-of-the-art training complex in the middle of Alexandra Park. The administration offices will be based near the Campbell Crescent entrance and there will be goalposts fitted once building starts.
It appears to be a win-win situation for the Blues and Auckland Trotting Club, who own Alexandra Park and who are keen to ensure their sustainability in their 125th year of existence. Seeking to be more than just a harness racing club, ATC are looking at residential and retail developments in the large carpark area, with plans for 231 apartments.
The Blues were not talking officially, with the lease still to be signed off, but the board have apparently agreed in principle to the shift. At the very latest, the Blues will be ensconced in Alexandra Park by 2016.
Prior to the shift to Unitec, at the time David Nucifora took over as head coach, the Blues were constantly on the move with their training venues. They used Eden Park No 2 when it didn't clash with cricket and also trained at Auckland Grammar School on occasion.
Unitec were accommodating in granting the Blues, and Auckland Rugby, extra space for offices over the years, but it was never enough for a sporting franchise in the nation's biggest city. The vexed facilities question has rarely been off the Blues' agenda in recent years, and a location near Auckland Airport was even explored.
Unitec, too, are moving in a different strategic direction and are exploring how to best utilise their 55 hectares of prime land. Their two rugby fields might be squeezed out.
Alexandra Park has a rugby history from the early years of the 20th century. Prior to Auckland Rugby finding a new home at Eden Park in 1914, a lot of representative and club rugby was played at Alexandra Park and the 1908 All Blacks played a test against the Anglo-Welsh at nearby Potter's Park (not to be confused with the current Potter's Park, on the corner of Balmoral and Dominion Roads). In 1958, the Epsom Showgrounds, almost next door to Alexandra Park, hosted an All Blacks-Wallabies test.