The sooner commonsense prevails and speedway is given a new deal to remain at Western Springs the better for all parties.
I have not heard one argument to the contrary that makes sense – either for sport in the Auckland region or for ratepayers, who ultimately will pick up the tab on whatever option the city chooses.
For the sake of this discussion, let's put the emotion to one side and examine the situation without talking about how speedway has been at Western Springs since the 1920s, that families have introduced the next generation to speedway throughout that time and that the traditional home of the sport in New Zealand has a fine reputation the world over.
This debate is about what makes strategic sense and, as I see it, the most economically viable way forward is the status quo.
Regional Facilities Auckland spoke out last week about how the annual cost of maintaining Western Springs as a venue was about $560,000. Speedway pays something like $151,000 to use it. That leaves a touch over $400,000 that the city is picking up.
That figure is extremely relevant when you consider the alternatives however.
The RFA wants to build a facility at the old Waikaraka Park where both speedway and stock cars can co-exist. There are major hurdles to jump to make that happen – one is an amateur sport while the other is not. There are only so many Saturday nights during summer and somehow they need to be able to work together to schedule a calendar that works for both parties. The cost of constructing this proposed facility was $40m though they tried to get that figure down to $26m.
When you compare the cost to the city of the new facility the status quo could stay in place for the next 50 years and we would still be in the green. But don't think that's where it stops.
RFA wants to redesign Western Springs into a test cricket venue. The cost of that will be significant as well. Is it really worth spending that sort of money plus forcing speedway out for the sake of maybe one test cricket match per year?
With the future of cricket and test matches specifically in constant question there would be significant risk that the entire exercise could be a giant waste of time and money.
Don't get me wrong – I love test cricket but last month we had the very first pink ball day-night test in New Zealand and the best crowd they could muster was 10,000 people despite the novelty factor and the added bonus of the touring Barmy Army, which seriously inflates crowd numbers. Speedway attracts those sorts of numbers on a regular basis. Next summer the Black Caps play two test matches against Sri Lanka and three against Bangladesh at home – hardly crowd-pullers.
Admittedly – if Western Springs were free of speedway they could host more events – up to 44 nights a year compared to 28 at present, of which 14 are speedway related. That would help make the place more cost-effective but unlikely to square the ledger up with the status quo.
Until the long-term future of Eden Park and/or a waterfront stadium is secured, it seems pointless to be tinkering with the city-wide stadium strategy at the cost to ratepayers - especially when the status quo ticks more boxes than change.