Andrew Alderson and Michael Burgess try to solve Auckland's stadium jigsaw.
Venue: Waterfront Stadium
Possible role: The city's main hub for footballing codes, concerts and major functions
Capacity: 25,000 (club mode), 50,000 (major event), 65,000 (concerts)
Summary: A rectangular fit-for-purpose venue for footballing codes — Warriors (post-2028), Blues, All Whites, All Blacks — and top musical acts to provide 40-45 events a year. Regional Facilities Auckland hopes it will also host concerts, major functions and potentially a Commonwealth Games. Private investment is needed to help meet the capital cost requirements but profitable events would reduce rate-payer burden.
According to the Venue Development Strategy, the stadium location is not yet determined but would "ideally be located in proximity to the city rail link, bus and ferry transport hubs". A central city location could also provide access to bars, restaurants and accommodation.
The RFA considers this option must be gauged against Eden Park's suitability to meet these criteria through a full business case. Consultants will be rubbing their hands.
Venue: Eden Park and Eden Park Outer Oval
Current role: The city's main hub for rugby and cricket
Capacity: Eden Park (rugby — 50,000, cricket — 41,000), Eden Park Outer Oval (cricket — 4000)
Possible role: The city's main hub for footballing codes
Capacity: Eden Park circa 50,000
Summary: Remains a rugby fortress — the All Blacks haven't been beaten here since French fullback Jean-Luc Sadourny scored his "try from the end of the world" in 1994. The ground also gets used by the Blues and Auckland provincial sides. The test, one-day international and T20 cricket has often been scintillating, too. Nostalgia aside, New Zealand Cricket struggle with the ground's size and hireage costs. They have stated they want to move to Western Springs. Auckland Cricket would prefer to stay. They use the Outer Oval for their domestic matches. If the Waterfront Stadium is not built, Eden Park could become a rectangular fit-for-purpose venue for footballing codes if cricket moves. The Outer Oval could be sold for commercial and residential use, filling Auckland Cricket and Auckland Rugby's coffers for generations. Major heritage and practical barriers still need resolution before Eden Park's removal from the sporting landscape.
Venue: Western Springs
Current role: A speedway venue for midget and sprintcar classes, Ponsonby Rugby Club.
Possible role: Cricket, Australian Rules, concerts, Ponsonby Rugby Club
Summary: The RFA proposes developing the stadium into a world-class cricket ground, once speedway's lease finishes in March 2019. That remains the key domino in the implementation of the RFA's Venue Development Strategy. It's no simple decision, considering the 90-year heritage factor and loyal fanbase. Speedway would relocate to a Regional Motorsport Park to ensure continuity and sustainability. The delivery time is estimated at one to two years. The sport's promoters want certainty over their future and Western Springs is their preference. New Zealand Cricket claims Auckland is missing out on international cricket exposure because Eden Park is unaffordable and its small size risks compromising matches' integrity. The belief is that Western Springs' natural amphitheatre and grass banking is ideal. Auckland Cricket would prefer to stay at Eden Park, so compromise and negotiation are still required.
Venue: Mt Smart
Current role: The long term home of the Warriors. Also hosted the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, and is the prominent concert venue in the isthmus. An occasional football venue. The number two ground is the home of Auckland Athletics.
Summary: Regional Facilities Auckland had wanted the Warriors out of Mt Smart under their original plan, shifting to either QBE or Eden Park, but former Warriors CEO Jim Doyle successfully negotiated a new lease in 2016 that secured their place as anchor tenants until 2028. The Warriors, who have been at the Penrose venue since 1995, will be based at Mt Smart until an alternative, such as the mooted new CBD stadium, becomes available. It will remain a training and administration base for the NRL club, and the Kiwis. It will also be a high performance training facility for other codes, as well as a community hub. Athletics will continue to be based on the outer ground.
Venue: North Harbour Stadium (QBE)
Current role: The headquarters of New Zealand Football and North Harbour Rugby. Auckland venue for the All Whites, which has also hosted three Fifa age-group World Cups (1999, 2007 and 2015). Occasional Blues and All Blacks matches. Also a concert and festival venue. Has historically struggled to cope with large crowds, with congestion around ticketing and toilet facilities.
Summary: Like Mt Smart, QBE's role will change considerably under the Venue Development Strategy. The vision is for a high performance training hub, which supports NZF, NHR and possibly New Zealand Rugby and visiting AFL teams. Community sport will be a focus, but the All Whites and any A-League games will eventually staged over the bridge. The new Auckland-based Australian Baseball League venture will also be situated there and the ground will be re-configured to accommodate a baseball diamond in the summer months.
Venue: ASB Tennis Centre
Current role: Home of Auckland's two flagship professional tennis tournaments on the WTA and ATP tour.
Summary: The focus of New Zealand's tennis season will continue to fall on Stanley Street for a fortnight every summer. There are no plans to move, though Tennis Auckland has been pushing for the much needed redevelopment of two grandstands for several years. There's a longer, more ambitious goal, of a covered arena, which could also host concerts and other entertainment.
Auckland's Indoor Venues
The ongoing use of Spark Arena (Breakers, Silver Ferns and concerts), North Shore events centre (Breakers) and Waitakere's Trusts' Arena (Mystics and Silver Ferns) are beyond the scope of the current VDS strategy, with the RFA saying further research and consultation needed around the future utilisation.
Venue: Waikaraka Park
Current role: A speedway venue for stock and saloon car classes.
Capacity: circa 3000
Summary: Even those who haven't been there will probably recognise this place from the legendary radio jingle — Waikaraka Park, roaring in the dark, thrills and spills, smoke and spark, Waikaraka Park. Based in Onehunga, but the Herald has been told it would need serious upgrading if it was to cater for the Western Springs speedway traffic as well. Likely to stay as it is throughout the VDS process.
Venue: Regional Motorsport Park
Possible role: Colin Dale Park near the airport is zoned as a motorsport precinct.
Capacity: circa 15,000
Summary: CDP is home to six motor sport genres — off-road racing, motocross, BMX, go-karting, jet sprints, and radio-controlled cars. The Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board is pushing for Auckland Council to recognise the $4.4 million park as a regional facility because motor sport, through each of its strands, plays a significant role in the city's sporting landscape. Regardless, the aim would be for speedway to have a bespoke venue of an appropriate scale on a site enabled for all classes.