The proposed Auckland professional baseball franchise could play out of QBE North Harbour Stadium next season.
Stadium officials, Regional Facilities Auckland and Baseball New Zealand representatives spent time on the number one field at the Albany venue this week and confirmed it could become a temporary home should the team enter the Australian Baseball League next summer.
New Zealand has been asked to make a bid for inclusion in an expanded league as early as next year. A suitable playing facility remains the biggest challenge to an Auckland bid but relevant parties have been working on creating a national stadium at QBE North Harbour Stadium, using one of the outer fields.
But while funds are raised and construction work carried out a temporary solution would be to turn the number one ground into a baseball facility.
World-class lighting, stadium seating, media facilities, corporate facilities and changing rooms are already operational on the number one ground while football dugouts can be used for teams.
Eden Park turf manager Mark Perham has been involved in discussions around how to layout the ground and cut out a diamond while being able to restore the stadium to a football ground at the end of summer.
A purpose-built minor league quality stadium is likely to cost in the vicinity of $5 million — money the sport doesn't have. But getting help from Major League Baseball is a real possibility.
MLB vice-president Asia Pacific Jim Small has worked with Baseball New Zealand chief executive Ryan Flynn over the past couple of years. MLB's chief stadium design expert Murray Cook's services have been donated and he has worked with council in identifying the appropriate locations.
Small told the Herald on Sunday that MLB could potentially provide a lump sum to assist as well as bringing age-group events or MLB publicity events to Auckland once the stadium is completed.
"We would look over their plans and advise them on their plans," Small said. "We helped navigate Ryan to apply for funding through a programme we have called the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. The third thing we promised is once they build the stadium we would do something. What that something is, is very much open.
"The future for baseball is bright in New Zealand.
"We have been in touch with Ryan and we will work with him to make sure that application is given serious consideration."
The ABL is expected to announce a decision regarding expansion by March next year.