It's the great Auckland stadium debate part four. Or is it part five? Or are we actually in the middle of series two?

This thing could end up on Netflix and would be called Stadium. There would be heroes and villains, lots of blood, lots of twists, innocent bystanders who might not be so innocent and plots you can't fully remember or comprehend.

The cast of characters on Stadium now includes the Ombudsman, believe it or not, and the items of interest a redacted consultants' report in the mayoral office.

The words 'Ombudsman' and 'redacted' should inspire excitement but sorry — I'm out of stadium debate energy. Drained. Exhausted. The phrase "$1.5 billion" didn't help.


Over the past few years, just about every sports arena in Auckland has been earmarked or talked about for a different sport. There might be enough reports and column inches written on new stadiums, old stadiums and spare land to fill a stadium.

The storylines so far...

• Eden Park Outer Oval will become an international cricket ground.
• Western Springs will quit speedway for cricket.
• Mt Smart Stadium will quit rugby league and embrace speedway.
• Mt Smart Stadium will have a roof.
• Chamberlain Park will quit being an 18-hole golf course to become all-weather sports fields.
• Albany Stadium will quit being a failure to become a new failure as the new home of the Warriors.
• Victoria Park will quit as a relaxing green space and social sport paradise to become a cricket ground.
• Waikaraka Park will take over as the home of speedway from Western Springs.
• The Auckland Tennis Centre will be upgraded with a roof.
• There will be a gleaming new stadium near the harbour.
• There will be a gleaming new stadium under the harbour.
• Trusts Arena stadium will be turned into an enormous bouncy castle (I made that one up).

None of these things have happened, and the bouncy castle had more chance than a few of the other options.

Huh? Anyone for cricket. Photo / Jeremy Ward.
Huh? Anyone for cricket. Photo / Jeremy Ward.

The killer blow was the Eden Park Outer Oval knock back - all the International Cricket Council required was a picket fence and somewhere for the match officials and media to sit. It was the kind of thing that could have been knocked together in an episode of a TV makeover show.

But oh no, no, no, no, no. We're not falling for that one in Auckland, not without a million dollar consultants report first.

I tried to get really excited about this latest stadium debate, really did. Tried to dig deep, find a spark. The new proposal has a lot going for it, involving as it does a new stadium with a big curtain bringing the curtain down on motley Eden Park.

But the adrenaline remained parked this time around. There are only so many stadium debates in any of us, so many false dawns that can be endured.


Oh for the days of stadium optimism...

Those happy days included writing a column calling on Auckland to appoint a charismatic stadium tsar, but I can't even get excited about that idea anymore. I used to prattle on about how magnificent stadiums create magnificent sport. Nah. Too many disappointments. Too many dead ends.

Not everyone is out of energy though.

In a dramatic new plot twist, mighty Auckland Cricket has chained itself to the Eden Park railings, ready to defy the bulldozers and wrecking balls. Plunket Shield cricket and its army of nine spectators will not be moved. No siree. Terrific spirit troops, and the word is they are being closely advised by the scary Chamberlain Park Golf Course Defence Force.

A lone fan at Eden Park Outer Oval for the Plunket Shield. Photo / Photosport
A lone fan at Eden Park Outer Oval for the Plunket Shield. Photo / Photosport

Moving on...

I've conducted an unofficial poll asking the question: Is the latest debate the real deal - will it lead to anything?

People stare blankly, talk too much, don't talk at all, fiddle with their hands, mumble things about Dunedin and Hamilton and Christchurch. They feign interest, insight.

"It will happen one day but not in our lifetime," said a middle aged fence-sitter, running for the door.

Others mentioned Auckland land values, railway land, New Zealand Rugby, boutique stadiums, stadium life expectancy, rates, a mystery consortium.

It was like being drawn back towards episode one, of vague characters and murky plot lines.

Promising pilot, shame about the series.