Petone Arena: Sorting the facts from fiction
The Petone Arena has been the focus of much debate and city councillors will soon have to decide whether they continue to investigate the stadium or call time on Gareth Morgan's $48 million proposal. There have been lots of complaints and misunderstandings about the process so far. Reporter Nicholas Boyack tries to answer some of these.
Petone Rec has been chosen due to its proximity to Jackson St bars and cafes. Council officers support Petone because of the economic benefits (claimed to be $6 million per annum) it will bring the city."
The claim: The stadium is a done deal and councillors have already agreed to it.
The facts: All our politicians have agreed to do is investigate the proposal further. The project will require resource consent and an actual decision is at least a year away.
City councillors attached a number of conditions which must be satisfied for it to proceed, including:
- The project has to have community support.
- An assessment of the impact on community sport.
- An independent peer review of the business case by appropriate experts.
- The Phoenix have to be able to show they have a 10 year contract with the A-League.
The claim: Parking will be a nightmare.
The facts: Parking will be dealt with as part of the resource consent. The council has received preliminary advice that getting consent is achievable. That will probably involve a detailed parking plan similar to the one required for the extensions to the Walter Nash Stadium.
The claim: The Petone Rugby Club opposes the arena because it will lose grounds. The club's opposition surely spells the end of the proposal?
The facts: The club is strongly against the proposal and believes it will be bad for rugby and cricket. But that position was reached after the club received incomplete information on the impact the arena would have on other codes. The council has pledged to work with the club if they are to find a solution.
The claim: The arena is too far from public transport and people will not walk from railway stations.
The facts: Hutt News reported on February 25 that the distance from Ava Station is 700 metres - 200 metres less than the distance from Wellington Railway Station to Westpac Stadium.
The claim: People from northern Wellington suburbs, Porirua and Kapiti Coast will not come because they will have to drive or first take the train to Wellington, and then get on another train to Petone.
The facts: A very legitimate concern. However, the proposed Grenada Petone Link road will provide more direct access to Petone by car.
The claim: Surely Hutt Park is a much better option, and the train line to Hutt Park could be revived and used?
The facts: That would require traffic to use the Petone Esplanade and Pipe Bridge, which are major choke points. Reconfiguring train lines is expensive and unlikely to get support from the regional council or Kiwi Rail.
Petone Rec has been chosen due to its proximity to Jackson St bars and cafes. Council officers support Petone because of the economic benefits (claimed to be $6 million per annum) it will bring the city.
The claim: The only sport that will benefit is professional soccer.
The facts: Debatable. It is no secret that Wellington rugby is unhappy with Westpac Stadium.
Wellington rugby has long standing commercial ties to the stadium but the Lions would like a cheaper option. Wellington Rugby League supports the arena. The Phoenix have publicly stated they want to find an alternative venue in the region. Unless they find a new home, the Phoenix could play most of their games in places like Dunedin or Napier.
The claim: Westpac Stadium is a regional facility to which Hutt City ratepayers contributed financially. Petone Arena will be a regional asset and other council's should contribute financially
The facts: City council general manager Matt Reid has acknowledged it will be a regional asset and has said that the council should consider an approach to the regional council for funding.
The claim: It will be unfair on neighbours to have big events on the Petone Rec.
The facts: Another legitimate concern, but remember over the years the ground has hosted many major sporting events. In the 1950s, huge crowds flocked to the ground to watch legendary All Black Bob Scott. In recent times McBain Shield matches have attracted big crowds.
The claim: Pretty much everyone in Petone opposes the stadium.
The facts: Debatable. Some local business and residents support it, as well as the Petone Working Men's Club.
The claim: This is a Petone issue and the council only wants to hear from Petone residents.
The facts: The Petone Rec belongs to everyone in the city.
The council has been asked to contribute $25 million. That means ratepayers throughout the city will be paying for it. The council wants to hear from residents, no matter where they live.
Submissions close this Friday.
- See www.huttcity.govt.nz for more information.