Western Springs Speedway: Races will continue at beloved stadium for another year

The previous plan to move Speedway to Colin Dale Park was signed in 2018 by promoter Bill Buckley, and then-RFA chair Sir Don McKinnon
Chris Skelton/STUFF
The previous plan to move Speedway to Colin Dale Park was signed in 2018 by promoter Bill Buckley, and then-RFA chair Sir Don McKinnon

Speedway has got a last-minute reprieve from having to quit Western Springs' stadium this weekend, after 90 years. 

The council's venue agency Regional Facilities Auckland said the sport's lease has been extended for a further year.

But Western Springs Speedway promoter has warned the wrangling over leaving the stadium is not yet over.

Chris Skelton/STUFF
Will speedway at Western Springs be granted a temporary reprieve, allowing its 90-year history to continue - for now?

"We appreciate RFA's collaborative approach in finding a short-term solution, but the (long-term) problem remains," said promoter Bill Buckley in a statement

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The agreement will be a relief to competitors and fans, who faced going to what would have been the final Western Springs meeting on Saturday, with no home available for the next season. 

RFA's chair Andrew Barnes said the extension was agreed as the replacement site identified by Auckland Council, Colin Dale Park, "is not yet fit for purpose."

"We have come to an agreement with Mr Buckley that buys some time for Auckland Council to organise a permanent home for Speedway," said Barnes

The RFA statement including comment from both Barnes and Buckley, appears to point to the council being responsible for what comes next.

"We have succeeded in resolving the matter for now so Speedway can continue uninterrupted in the short term, but some critical and urgent decisions have to be made by Auckland Council so we do not find ourselves in this situation ever again," said Barnes.

"The problem remains and only Council can solve it," said Buckley.

"RFA and I have agreed that unless Council fixes this we will all find ourselves back dealing with this in a year's time."

"Speedway's view is that the proposed alternative venue of Colin Dale Park would be suitable, but we cannot move from Western Springs until it is ready, and Council has not yet approved the necessary funding to upgrade it," said Buckley.

The mayor Phil Goff has welcomed the agreement: "An extension for one season at Western Springs provides surety for Speedway and its fans for next season and allows all parties time to agree on a new permanent home for Speedway in Auckland.

"I support Bill Buckley's vision to move speedway to Colin Dale Park which will allow the sport to grow without the constraints currently imposed by the Environment Court on the number of meetings that can be held.

"Colin Dale Park future proofs speedway. It can hold events at Colin Dale Park without limitation and without opposition from neighbouring residents concerned about noise or disturbance to their lives. It also allows a fit for purpose, safe track to be built there," Phil Goff says.

Speedway began at the Western Springs venue 90 years ago, but its days have been numbered for seven years when Auckland Council unveiled its future strategy for stadia. 

The sport has been earmarked since then to move out, but through ever-changing scenarios a future venue has not been completely nailed down.

Speedway's lease had a final two-years added to it back in 2016.

The eventual move would be the first domino, in a series of changes that will see Western Springs developed as a cricket oval and continuing concert venue, and Colin Dale Park near Auckland airport evolves as a motorsport hub.

RFA had been planning for next summer being without speedway at Western Springs, with work to begin on replacing amenities such as toilet blocks, and increasing the number of concert-style events.

"RFA will work collaboratively with Council, as we have with Mr Buckley, but it is Council's responsibility to take the lead and find a permanent home which meets the needs of Speedway fans and is appropriate for Auckland's ratepayers," said RFA's Barnes.