A host of New Zealand sports bodies have backed plans to build a new multi-purpose stadium in the city of Auckland, with New Zealand Cricket said to be eyeing a move away from Eden Park (pictured).
Regional Facilities Auckland has proposed that the existing Western Springs Stadium, which is primarily used for speedway, be developed into an international-quality oval sports field. RFA’s venue development strategy recommends that a full business case is carried out to determine the viability of a central-city rectangular stadium compared to the cost and benefits of redeveloping Eden Park, a rugby and cricket venue.
New Zealand Cricket, New Zealand Rugby, the Vodafone Warriors, New Zealand Football, the Blues, the National Rugby League and the AFL Aussie rules competition have all supported the aims of the venue development study.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said: “A newly-developed cricket amenity, with a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena, able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding, would guarantee Auckland significantly more men’s and women’s international cricket.”
NZC is said to be seriously considering relocating from Eden Park to a redeveloped Western Springs Stadium. “Eden Park, the only ICC-sanctioned arena in New Zealand’s most populous city, is unaffordable for all but the biggest and, by definition, the rarest of international cricket fixtures,” White said, according to the Reuters news agency.
“For this reason, Auckland has hosted just three Test matches since 2006, and the number of one-day internationals and T20 internationals played in the city has been a mere fraction of what it would be, were it to offer a fit-for-purpose, international-standard cricket ground.”
New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said that Auckland is “losing out on some big fixtures” to other cities in New Zealand, while New Zealand Rugby’s chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said his body needs to keep improving its fan experience to “stay relevant and engage current and new fans”.
Cass added: “Any stadium planning needs to consider the wider, changing needs of codes like ours including a focus on the women’s game, new competitions, the needs of Super Rugby, provincial rugby and club and schools rugby as well as events such as sevens and All Blacks Tests and be scalable for a range of competitions and formats.”
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