Ideas above our station

Last weekend Eden Park was pleading for Auckland ratepayers to shell out $100 million as mounting financial pressures are putting at risk its ability to host All Black tests and other major events.

By rantykiwi

We need to stop having ideas above our station. New Zealand as a whole has a lesser population than any self-respecting city anywhere else in the world. Many of those cities only have one stadium of any significant size, so why do we expect that Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin should all have top of the line facilities?

Dunedin’s stadium bleeds red ink, Westpac Stadium is a perennial financial black hole, Eden Park has been in the poo for decades, and Christchurch is looking to shell out a huge sum on a stadium that will only ever be a millstone for the city’s ratepayers.

Auckland is within two hours drive of 50% of New Zealand’s population so it’s a no brainer that the logical place for New Zealand’s premier stadium is there.

It’s time to take an unbiased look at the country as a whole and formulate a national plan to address this issue.

Let’s start with cutting the new Christchurch facility back in cost and scope. There hasn’t been much downside to almost a decade of using a temporary facility so why squander a load of money on a stadium that serves at best 15% of the country’s (and two-thirds of the South Island’s) population?

Remove the delusions of grandeur from the new stadium planners, slash its budget, build a simple stadium and redirect the savings into a new national stadium that is easily accessible by the greatest number of people.

That said, any new stadium in Auckland should be kept in perspective. Eden Park seats 50,000+ but is very rarely at capacity, so logically any replacement need be no larger. The Auckland CBD is also stuffed. As proven in post-quake Christchurch, a CBD is not a necessity, and even now it’s rebuilt, many businesses have realised that a location there is not necessary, so putting a stadium in Auckland’s CBD is at best ill-advised.

There’s plenty of land adjacent to Auckland airport, which is an area already well served by roading. Add in a real rail link (not some glorified tram posing as a train), and accessibility won’t be an issue. After all, Auckland council feel that moving speedway there with regular 10,000+ attendees without adding any provision for public transport is viable, so a larger facility shouldn’t be a significant issue.

This is a decision that will consume vast sums of public money, and provide a facility that will affect New Zealand events for many decades. It needs to be taken on a nationwide scale in a manner free of parochial pride and loyalties. Let’s go back to square one and do what is best for the whole country, rather than pander to the ego of a mayor who wants to leave a monument to his self-importance.

What we need, and the only thing we can realistically afford, is one national stadium, designed, sized and located with the next 50 years in mind, in Auckland, but not in the CBD. I’ll bet that nobody who can make a difference has the moral fibre to run with it though.