Status quo for Eden Park

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 07:51 22/06/2012

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It is business as usual at Eden Park despite a proposed stadium shake-up in Auckland.

A discussion paper released by Regional Facilities Auckland suggests changes in the roles of three city stadiums.

It says they are under-used and are working under financial constraints.

The stadiums are Eden Park, Mt Smart and North Harbour.

The document proposes making Eden Park the premier competition venue, giving it more major sporting events including rugby league games with crowds of more than 20,000.

It also suggests a new ownership model with integrated management for all three.

Eden Park Trust spokeswoman Tracy Morgan says there will be very little change for the venue.

"It's business as usual. This is something we've been doing for a while now when you look back to events like the All Whites game. We've been working hard to bring as many fixtures to the park as we can."

Ms Morgan confirms Eden Park had debts of $40 to $50 million after the Rugby World Cup.

She says it receives no funding from Regional Facilities Auckland and Auckland Council.

Ms Morgan says the discussion document is no different to how Eden Park is operating now.

"I do think it is a good debate to be having," she says.

Eden Park Neighbours Association president Mark Donnelly is concerned at the impact on the surrounding community of an increase in large sporting events at the site.

"If the frequency of large sporting events is increased, it will mean more arterial road closures and more traffic.

"People are stuck in an extra hour of traffic on Friday nights when there is a game on and I'm sure regional facilities haven't seen a tail of traffic on Dominion Rd all the way back to Upper Queen St."

Security also becomes an issue, Mr Donnelly says.

"Around two years ago we had the double-header league game where there were major security issues like broken glass around the streets and liquor bans being ignored.

"It only takes the police not to have enough resources on a particular night for things to get out of hand. It becomes disruptive to live a normal, residential life," Mr Donnelly says.

The document says Mt Smart Stadium needs ongoing upgrades to infrastructure and will remain the home ground for the Warriors. Regional Facilities Auckland suggests it also become the city's main outdoor music venue.

The organisation's chief executive Robert Domm says the issues paper will seek feedback from stakeholders, sporting codes and interested parties over the next two months.

"The residents are right to be concerned, so we want to engage with them. We're not in the business of making life difficult for residents."

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Mr Domm says the idea of shared ownership for the three stadiums will lower operational costs and help with the financial constraints.

"It makes sense to work together in a collaborative way to work through the difficulties."

–Ciara Pratt is an AUT journalism student

- © Fairfax NZ News

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