Council signals sports ground shake-up
All Warriors home games may move to Eden Park, speedway to Mount Smart and cricket to Western Springs, under a plan set to be approved by Auckland Council next week.
It's recommended councillors agree Eden Park be the primary venue for the Warriors, and co-exist with rugby union and cricket.
If this was to happen Mount Smart would become the Warriors base for league training, its high performance centre and administration, speedway could move to Mount Smart and Western Springs could host test and local cricket.
The role of North Harbour Stadium would remain largely unchanged.
The move comes after Regional Facilities Auckland released a report earlier this year on the state of Auckland's stadiums and the best way to proceed.
If the plan is given the green light the changes would happen over the next three to five years.
Auckland Rugby Union chief executive Andy Dalton said the issue had been bandied about for a number of years.
The government's $241 million upgrade of Eden Park was signed off on the proviso that it would become a "community asset" for all sporting codes.
"It was always understood that Eden Park had to be a national stadium with more events. We fully understand the Warriors will be playing there and don’t have an issue with that.
"I understood they were looking to play not all of their games there, but a number of them. Maybe that has changed. There is historical tension between rugby and league, but Dalton downplayed any ongoing conflict if the two codes were to share Eden Park.
"Rugby does have some preferential booking rights given its historical contribution to the area, but league doesn’t generally play on a Friday night. It’s more common on a Sunday for a home game here.
"Given the investment that’s been made in Eden Park the rules have changed."
Auckland Council owns Mount Smart and Western Springs. Eden Park is held in a trust which is managed with representatives from Auckland Cricket, Auckland Rugby and government. North Shore Stadium is owned and operated by the North Shore Domain and North Harbour Trust Board.
The agenda for the governing body meeting says Regional Facilities Auckland discussions with "key stakeholders" found the regions stadiums could be better utilised "for the benefit of sporting codes".
"In addition, operating cost pressures and future capital requirements could be reduced by integrating operations and management across the stadiums. This would reduce council funding requirements and create opportunities for Eden Park to retire debt.
"This offsets the need for up to $60 million of unbudgeted capital investment at Mount Smart to meet Warriors future needs."
The sharing of Eden Park facilities could help the stadiums trust shoulder the burden of $55 million of debt. Mount Smart could be utilised by other sporting codes such as athletics and football.
According to the agenda, the Warriors preference is to remain at Mount Smart and for the stadium to be upgraded to an international standard with 30,000 seats, at a cost of between $50 million to $60m.
The Warriors next preference would be for major games to be played at Eden Park and to use Mount Smart for administration and training- as suggested by the council.
The agenda says that any discussions about the future use of stadiums would include affected communities, particularly those surrounding Eden Park, Mount Smart and Western Springs.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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