Believe it when I see it.

When the plans are drawn up, the money is in place, the earth cleared and the foundations laid then I'll start to get excited, but until then forgive me if I treat the new mayor's stadium vision as a bit of frat-boy boasting - Phi Goffa Alpha, perhaps.

Think of the imagination gridlock Auckland's burghers have demonstrated when it comes to getting people moving efficiently around this city. Think about the opposition former mayor Len Brown encountered when trying to address the long overdue problem of improving an inadequate rail network. Now imagine the naysayers who'll rise up against a downtown stadium. It will be derided as a Phil Goff vanity project.

There are, it will be claimed, far more worthy causes that we shouldn't be doing anything about before we don't do anything about a modern, central-city sports precinct.


It's all probably true, but after another weird night at the concrete and Perspex garden of Eden on Saturday you can't help but envy those sports fans who live in a city with a decent stadium in a decent location.

All the ingredients were there for a great night: a world-record attempt against our closest rivals, balmy spring weather, decent end-on seats and an expectant nuclear family attending an All Blacks test together for the first time.

It was a decent test too, yet for the best part of an hour it didn't feel like one. Didn't feel like much at all other than a waste of $300. When you attend live sport you want their to be an energy, a thrum from the stands you can't get from watching perfect high-definition pictures on a widescreen telly.

A colleague of mine put it perfectly. All Black fans turn up expecting an exhibition more than a contest. Which would explain why the crowd really only sprang to life when the All Blacks started cantering away from a game Australia in the final quarter.

This is not just the fault of the park, obviously. When there is a genuine contest, New Zealand rugby crowds have absolutely no idea how to react. During the 2011 Rugby World Cup final I left the air-conditioned confines of the press box to take in some of the atmosphere. There was none. The 60,000-strong crowd instead held their breath until the final whistle signalled the desired result.

There is more than just the strange Kiwi rugby psyche at play, though. Despite its well-earned reputation as a fortress, Eden Park remains a lousy ground only marginally improved by the $256 million spent to redevelop it in time for the World Cup.

The Kingsland entertainment precinct is too small to cope with pre- and post-match stomach stretching. The in-ground concessions leave you with a choice of a coronary or diabetes and there is a constant stream of people asking to squeeze past your seat during play en route to those unhealthy destinations. Even with the addition of a 1001 buses and three or four trains, it is still a pain in the posterior to get to and from.

So if Goff wants to send the bulldozers in and build a smaller, rectangular (that last word is so important) stadium downtown, I'm with him.


History is all well and good but apart from the matches and events it has hosted, Eden Park has none. There's nothing original or heritage about the stands on the main ground and it's a terrible cricket park to boot (although, ironically, by far the best, most atmospheric games there over the past few years have been cricket matches).

Goff is surely aware that opposition to his downtown pipedream will be committed and well-organised.

There'll be both the Eden Park Trust and the not-a-dollar-more-spent-on-sport brigade. It will be an exhausting fight. One that this sports fan hopes he wins.

Can't see it happening though.


His electric feet, brilliant hands and feel for the game have been and will be an asset to the All Blacks for a long time, but one day that right boot of Beauden Barrett is going to cost the All Blacks a test and hell hath no fury than a fanbase who believe winning is a birthright.


Kieran Read, Israel Dagg, Simon Hickey and Jordie Barrett are at least four cricketers tipped for higher honours that have been seduced by the rugby gods instead. The winter game undoubtedly does a better job of retaining its talent than the summer one.


Of the three big four-wheel classes in action this weekend, the V8s provided unquestionably the best spectacle, miles ahead of Nascar and F1. Terrible time of day to watch though.


Sometimes it is impossible not to get jealous. We get to write about sexual escapades in disabled ablutions, Americans get to write about baseballers who become hitmen for the mob.

And enjoy The Onion's dry look at sports droughts.