Major sports back Auckland stadium strategy
New Zealand’s major sports have backed Regional Facilities Auckland’s vision for enhancing the city’s outdoor stadium infrastructure.
The release of RFA’s Venue Development Strategy (VDS) by the Auckland Mayor’s office shows a plan to overcome the city’s ageing stadium infrastructure and develop fit-for-purpose facilities that better meet the city’s needs.
The VDS recommends speedway shift from Western Springs to allow the development of an international-quality oval sports field and that a full business case determine the viability of a central city rectangular stadium compared to the cost and benefits of redeveloping Eden Park.
The RFA strategy has been backed by local, national and international sporting bodies. In terms of submissions or previously publicly stated positions, leading organisations such as New Zealand Cricket, New Zealand Rugby, the Vodafone Warriors, New Zealand Football, the Blues, the NRL and the AFL have all supported the aims of the VDS.
New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive David White says Auckland is missing out on being allocated fixtures because existing stadium options aren’t friendly for users or fans, advising “a newly-developed cricket amenity, with a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena, able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding, would guarantee Auckland significantly more men’s and women’s international cricket.”
New Zealand Football, likewise, believe Auckland is missing out and “fully support” the RFA approach and strategy.
Pointing to last year’s World Cup play-off between the All Whites and Peru, the largest-ever football crowd in New Zealand, being hosted in Wellington, New Zealand Football Chief Executive Andy Martin, commented “whilst there are lots of football fans in Auckland, the city is losing out on some big fixtures to other cities.”
New Zealand Rugby’s Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass says the organisation supports the aims of the VDS and believes Auckland, as the country’s biggest city, is important to rugby’s continued growth and ability to cater for its participants and supporters.
Cass adds “we are very aware that fan expectations are changing and we need to keep improving that experience to stay relevant and engage current and new fans.
“Any stadium planning needs to consider the wider, changing needs of codes like ours including a focus on the women’s game, new competitions, the needs of Super Rugby, Provincial Rugby and Club and Schools rugby as well as events such as Sevens and All Blacks Tests and be scalable for a range of competitions and formats.”
Australian-based NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg says his organisation is “very excited” about the potential for a new purpose-built rectangular stadium in the heart of Auckland, stating “having a world-class stadium in the city will provide a compelling case to bring the NRL’s marquee events to Auckland.
“When we determine where we want to play our best content, a key consideration is giving our fans and players the best possible experience.”
RFA Chief Executive Chris Brooks said the Venue Development Strategy is one of the most important building blocks in developing the Auckland of the future.
Brooks concluded “because of the number of stakeholders involved in the process, we see the Venue Development Strategy as belonging to the city.
“The decisions being made now will serve future generations and ensure the long-term sustainability of important sporting, music and cultural events, providing the best possible experience for hirers, fans and the wider Auckland ratepayer.”
Click here to read the Venue Development Strategy.
Images: Speedway at Western Springs (top) and plans for an Auckland harbourside stadium (below).
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