Auckland Stadiums has reached an agreement for QBE Stadium to serve as the home of the Auckland Tuatara – New Zealand’s first-ever professional baseball team.

The team has entered into a long-term agreement with Auckland Stadiums to train and play at the stadium, which has a capacity of 25,000.

As part of the agreement, QBE Stadium’s west stand will be reconfigured to accommodate a full-sized baseball diamond. The team, which plays in the Australian Baseball League, is scheduled to begin using the stadium at the start of its second season in November 2019.

James Parkinson, acting director at Auckland Stadiums, said: “At Auckland Stadiums we are highly innovative and focused on ensuring our venues are flexible and versatile, so we can successfully host a range of excellent events. This new partnership with the Auckland Tuatara is a great example of leveraging the significant assets at QBE Stadium to allow us to meet the sporting demands of a growing and diversifying Auckland population, and continuing our support of sport in New Zealand in general, each of which are objectives of our venue development strategy.

“Attending an Auckland Tuatara event will be unlike any other sporting event in New Zealand with the franchise set to bring the best of America’s minor league game day experience to QBE Stadium. We believe this will bring a new demographic to QBE Stadium, with baseball becoming an increasingly popular sport in NZ, both in terms of television viewership and grassroots participation.”

Ryan Flynn, chief executive of Baseball New Zealand and general manager of the Auckland Tuatara, said the deal marks the “most significant milestone in the history of baseball in our country”.

Flynn added: “It’s the game changer the sport needed, and it’s a hub that will provide the visibility, commercial and development opportunities that our truly global game needed most to take the proverbial next step in New Zealand.”

Fifteen additional event days will be introduced to QBE Stadium’s summer schedule, including regular double-header Saturday fixtures.

QBE Stadium is primarily a rugby venue but has also hosted football matches and other events.

Image: Ingolfson