http://xtramsn.co.nz/rugby/0,,12416-6547567,00.htmlOriginally posted by Xtra.co.nz
10/11/2006XtraMSNThe Government confirmed their desire to have a national stadium built on Auckland's waterfront to host the 2011 World Cup and have set a November 24 deadline to the city for a final decision.
Sports minister Trevor Mallard made the announcement in Auckland on Friday, saying they believed a new stadium could be built in time for the tournament.
Eden Park, the original choice, remains in the race for the moment. The Government's waterfront plans would now be put in front of the Auckland City Council and Auckland Regional Council for their decision between the two alternatives. They had a November 24 deadline.
But the Government's choice is clearly for a downtown facility on the waterfront and it will take some major resistance from Auckland to deny that. Already there have been strong displays of support from Auckland for a stadium in the heart of the city as public debate over the issue has raged for the past week.
Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard has voiced his support for the waterfront concept, labelling it as "bold".
Mallard described the choice between an upgrade of Eden Park as "finely balanced" but believed there was better benefit for Auckland and New Zealand in building a national stadium on the waterfront.
"While either stadium could host a great event we believe the waterfront option offers the best opportunity for New Zealand to showcase itself with Rugby World Cup 2011 but more importantly to attract other major sporting entertainment and spectator events to New Zealand," said Mallard.
While Eden Park had been the basis of New Zealand's successful bid to host the tournament, Mallard said the Government began investigating alternatives when budgeted costs rose.
The cost of the upgrade of Eden Park had ballooned from $150m to $320m.
That meant a need for the government to invest more public money and had therefore necessitated a look at other options.
They had consulted Australasia's finest stadium designers, architects, engineers and construction experts in their search for possibilities.
"There is little difference between the two options in terms of costs and construction deadlines. Advice from the experts is that both could be delivered on time."
Mallard saw benefits in attracting sports and entertainment beyond the World Cup and it would enliven the CBD. The likely location was between Captain Cook and Bledisloe wharves.
Showcase City And Country
It would also showcase the city and country as a world class destination.
"The Government believes that a sports stadium has the ability to contribute to the identity of Auckland and New Zealand," said Mallard.
"A national stadium could be very much the focal point of Auckland and it's landscape ... as much as the Sky Tower is or Rangitoto.
"It represents the best stadium investment in terms of its connections to transport hubs, its hospitality facilities ... hotels and parking in the CBD and it has the potential to improve access to cruise ships."
Mallard said the facility could double as a centre for visiting cruise ships.
The concept was being called Stadium New Zealand at the moment. It has been based on the successful Allianz Arena in Munich. It has a translucent structure that can be spectacularly lighted.
The design has the ability to have retractable seating that would allow for the football pitch to be expanded to accommodate one-day cricket internationals.
The cost of the 60,000-seat stadium has been put between $500m and $1b but the Government believes part of that could be funded through the Lotteries Commission and giving people the chance for lifetime memberships. City accommodation levies were also possible.
The Government wants construction to start within a year and is willing to rewrite laws to get around any stumbling blocks.
Clearly this is a signature move by the Labour Government. When New Zealand won the World Cup rights late last year Mallard described it as the biggest thing to have happened to the country. Now he wants a facility to match the occasion.
Friday's announcement ends speculation about other alternatives like North Harbour Stadium in Albany, Carlaw Park or Mt Smart Stadium being upgraded.
Trevor Mallard can go and suck SANZARs Tiny *Censored* however, I think this new waterfront stadium is the best option. The Caketin is too small and Christchurch is too cold and polluted to host the World Cup Final. While I love Eden Park, It isn't the best place to host big events, having to walk 2km's to the ground and back in a shitty part of Auckland, where the chances are you'll come back and find your car stereo missing.
Although 60,000 people is a bit small isn't it?