Auckland needs a smaller stadium

Last updated 10:00 11/02/2014
Eden Park

TOO BIG TO FILL: Eden Park is left wanting by most fixtures as its capacity is too large.

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We missed out on building a waterfront stadium for the Rugby World Cup, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing and that wasn't necessarily the last chance for it.

Eden Park is an iconic ground and is now in very healthy shape. It's an amazing stadium when it's full.

The problem we have is too many Auckland and national sports teams use Eden Park but don't have the pulling power to fill it. This makes for a poor viewing experience for spectators and doesn't offer players the best home advantage.

All cricket, Auckland rugby, Blues rugby and possible A-League soccer games should not be played at Eden Park. These teams all draw crowds of usually up to about 20,000. In a stadium like Eden Park, which holds 50,000, this makes for a poor experience for all involved.

Unfortunately, there are no decent alternatives at the moment. The only other two major stadiums are North Harbour Stadium and Mt Smart Stadium.

North Harbour Stadium is on the North Shore, which is almost a different region. Forget that.

Mt Smart is badly located for most people.

With modern TV coverage, you need to have a good offer to get people away from the comfort of their own homes to watch sport. You need a quality stadium in a really convenient location.

The obvious solution is to get rid of Mt Smart Stadium, it's too far out and only the Warriors really play there. Build a new stadium on the waterfront, purpose built for Auckland rugby, the Blues, the Warriors, and possibly a new A-League soccer team.

This new stadium would be right next to the Britomart transport centre, allowing people from all over Auckland easy access.

The stadium would have to have an architectural point of difference and a retractable roof. The smaller capacity would provide better atmosphere and increased demand. Teams would play in front of full houses, which can only increase performance, drawing more interest.

The most difficult part would be innovating the design to allow close seating and a great viewing experience for rugby, league and soccer while still allowing for cricket to be played.

With a brand new stadium and some clever engineers and architects, I'm sure this is going to be possible, and great for sport in our biggest city.

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