We must live with the Cake Tin

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 13:44 03/02/2014

OPINION: The owners of Wellington Phoenix apparently plan to build a 10,000 to 12,000-seater football stadium somewhere in the Capital.

There's no doubt that a purpose built football arena would be fantastic. You need only look at Western Sydney Wanderers' Pirtek Stadium to see the kind of cauldron-like atmosphere that can be created at a compact stadium.

Two options have been floated for Wellington. The Phoenix training base at Newtown Park and the Petone Recreation Ground.

You can eliminate Newtown Park. It is located on the Green Belt. My understanding from people within Wellington City Council is the idea is a dead duck.

The option for a stadium at the Petone Rec has been floating around for a while. I understand there have been rudimentary plans drawn up. But basing the Phoenix in Petone would be risky.

All public transport leads to Westpac Stadium, that's why it was built near the railway station in the first place. That's not the case with the Petone Rec.

An argument in favour of Petone would be that no matter the negatives over the location - and it would be a serious mission for some to get there - if you build a football stadium the crowds will come.

That is exactly what was said of Westpac Stadium when it opened in 2000 and for a time it was true. But once the novelty eroded, so too did attendance numbers.

And remember, all ratepayers in the greater Wellington region are already paying a targeted rate for Westpac Stadium. Should they be called on to fund a second stadium? Or will the Phoenix owners come to the party? I personally doubt that. They don't want to splurge on marquee players, so why would they front up with truckloads of cash for a stadium?

The reality of the situation is that planners got it wrong when they made Westpac Stadium an oval cricket ground. It should have been designed for football. It would have been cheaper and the savings could have been used to upgrade the Basin Reserve.

Sadly, football fans are now paying the price of poor decisions made more than 15 years ago, and that includes failing to future proof the Cake Tin so it could be retro-fitted with a retractable roof.

But Westpac Stadium is what it is and I believe, for better or worse, it will remain the Phoenix's home ground for the foreseeable future.

- The Dominion Post

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