All Blacks legend Buck Shelford says Eden Park is a dinosaur and it's time for a new Auckland stadium.
The 60-year-old played six of his 22 tests at Eden Park, including the 1987 World Cup final against France. He has fond memories, although most were from club rugby days in the late 1970s.
Shelford said it's time Auckland built a new stadium, ideally with a roof and a 50,000 capacity over two tiers, with the upper one closed off in the event of smaller crowds.
As Mayor Phil Goff investigates alternatives to Auckland's ageing sporting infrastructure, including the possibility of a downtown stadium, Shelford said the time is right to commit.
"I think Eden Park is a dinosaur," he told the Herald.
"The public are too far away from the ground because it doubles as a cricket stadium, and now they've changed the size of the field it's too small for cricket.
"There's a lot of history there which is fine, but you can still create history at a new stadium."
Shelford favoured a purpose-built football ground. Calling the concept a "no-brainer", he said a new stadium could host test matches, the Blues, Warriors, Mitre 10 Cup rugby, sevens, touch and concerts.
He said it was difficult to go past Twickenham, Millennium Stadium and Murrayfield as venues to play and watch rugby. Another favourite was BC Place, the enclosed stadium in Vancouver with a four-sided high-definition replay screen suspended from the roof.
However, Shelford said New Zealand had already spent millions of dollars upgrading Eden Park instead of building a new stadium before the 2011 World Cup.
"We had the opportunity to do that back in 2008-2010 and blew it."
His fondest memories of playing on Eden Park were at grassroots level.
"Now it's sacrosanct, they even begrudge curtain-raisers being played there."
Six possible sites for a new stadium have been identified. Railway land alongside Spark Arena, owned by iwi Ngāti Whātua, is believed to be the favoured location. Other possible sites are understood to include Victoria Park and Wynyard Quarter.
It would likely mean selling off Eden Park to help meet the estimated $1.1bn-$.5bn cost and shuffling sports around different venues.
Samoan rugby legend Sir Bryan Williams said he was not sold on the idea of quitting Eden Park.
"I'm quite a traditionalist and have had so many great experiences at Eden Park," the 67-year-old said.
Six of Williams' 38 tests were at Eden Park, including what became known as the "water polo test" when the All Blacks defeated Scotland 24-0 at "Lake Eden" and he scored two tries.
"Its shortcomings are well-documented, and it might need reconfiguring by bringing a grandstand closer, which requires one to be demolished.
"But if you look at the likes of Millennium Stadium in Cardiff or Lansdowne Rd in Dublin they did something similar and rebuilt it, so it can be done."
Williams can see the merits of a downtown stadium which is close to transport hubs, restaurants and cafes, but says it'll be a costly exercise either way.
"It's hard to know where the money will come from."
Meanwhile, former NZ cricketer Mark Greatbatch supports any concept that delivers more tests.
Greatbatch scored a century on test debut against England at Eden Park in 1988 and revolutionised limited overs batting at the venue four years later during the World Cup.
He is more in Shelford's camp. The prospect of a bespoke Western Springs cricket stadium holds allure.
"It's a hard one because it's already changed so much through the decades, and especially for the Rugby World Cup when the cricket dynamics and diameters changed.
"What concerns me, from a cricket perspective, is that Auckland's only had three test matches in the last 12 years so that is damaging for the biggest city in the country.
"If there's a proper stadium suited for test cricket, you'd think that's the right way to go."
Greatbatch did not want to dilute lifelong memories at the ground.
"Like knowing your mates were on the hill in the Scotties' [Scotsman's] stand, not having paid to get in and drinking beer from the wholesalers. That's no longer there, but that was a good memory. No doubt about that."