Secret plans to build a new national stadium on the Auckland waterfront in New Zealand have been revealed, but long-standing opposition over the project remains.
A group of business people plans to construct a new venue partly sunken into reclaimed land at Bledisloe Wharf, according to the Newsroom website.
The project differs to plans released to the public in May, which also included a proposal to build a partly-submerged stadium on the waterfront. Consultants at PWC said the project would cost NZ$1.5bn (£737.6m/€844.7m/US$970.9m).
Newsroom said the situation is likely to be similar with the new plans, but the project would be funded by local businesses and investors rather than taxpayers.
The plans have reportedly been put to various public agencies and officials on condition that they sign non-disclosure agreements.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff confirmed to Newsroom that he is aware of the plan, but did not disclose whether the Council had been sworn to secrecy over the project.
“I have been approached by a private sector consortium of local businesses who are interested in building a downtown stadium,” he said. “Council is not in the position to finance a stadium through ratepayer funding and it is not on our current list of priorities.
“We are however open to considering a national stadium being funded from the private sector.
“I would welcome public debate around the design and location of any stadium which would provide Council with valuable feedback on possible options for the future.”
However, despite plans to use private funds to finance the project, long-standing opposition to the stadium remains.
Mike Lee, councillor for the Waitemata ward that includes the downtown wharf area, was one of the figures who spoke out over the initial plans and has now criticised the secrecy surrounding the latest initiative.
Albany Ward Councillor John Watson also hit out at the plans for being expensive and potentially disruptive to the area.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Watson said: “Any location in downtown is not without its challenges. The first thing people have questioned in the past is whether it is really the best use of prime waterfront land.
“To have a big stadium lying idle for 330 days of the year, as stadiums inevitably do – is that the best use of that prime land?”