Mt Eden residents' groups are optimistic ahead of today's unveiling of a $130 million-plus facelift of Eden Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The Eden Park development committee, chaired by Rob Fisher, will announce plans to boost the park from 47,500 to 60,000 and improve transport, noise and lighting issues that have plagued residents and spectators.
Among the plans are replacing the south stand and eastern terraces with a megastand that will cast a big shadow on neighbouring houses. The ASB Stand will be extended to where the rundown Panasonic stand is now.
It is understood that the uncovered west stand will remain and behind it, on the number two ground, a transport hub fronting Sandringham Rd will be built to take buses and the hundreds of taxis that now clog local streets Eden Park hosts big matches.
The Herald on Sunday reported this week that the cost will be significantly more than the $130 million touted by New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Chris Moller to upgrade Eden Park as a condition for hosting the largest sporting event after the soccer World Cup and Olympics.
The Herald has reported that the Auckland City Council will contribute up to $60 million and a further $13 million for an 8m-wide pedestrian overbridge from the transport hub to Kingsland. It is understood that the council will target much of its spending on improving transport facilities, including a park-and-ride facility within the transport hub that can be used year-round.
Eden Park Neighbours' Association chairman Mark Donnelly yesterday said the upgrade was an opportunity to deal with issues affecting residents, particularly traffic and transport. Containing noise within the stadium was another major concern. Lighting was less of a problem.
Mr Donnelly said the biggest concern for the association was funding running out to complete the entire package, particularly public transport and the transport hub.
Eden Park Residents' Association chairman Jose Fowler, whose organisation was set up last December in response to New Zealand securing the 2011 Rugby World Cup, said the 300-strong membership wanted the stadium to become a national asset and something to be proud to live alongside.
An online survey of members found the biggest concern was traffic management around Eden Park, moving one bottleneck from one street corner to another, and the failure of the council to tow cars illegally parked in residents-only parking areas.
Mr Fowler said resource consent should be granted immediately so work could begin on the upgrade.
"We do not have any plans to oppose [the resource consent]. We plan to work with the Eden Park Trust Board [which established the development committee to oversee the upgrade] and the council to make sure we can benefit from the development."
Sports Minister Trevor Mallard indicated that if the resource consent process dragged on, the Government would use call-in provisions at its disposal under the Resource Management Act to fast-track the process. He was not concerned at this stage.
The council has also offered Environment Minister David Benson-Pope an opportunity to make a submission on behalf of the Crown and to appoint a commissioner to the panel considering the resource consent application to be lodged on August 9.
The development committee will brief the two residents' groups this morning on the plans for Eden Park and hold three public meetings. The first will be tomorrow at the park between 10.30am and 12.30.