Auckland council debates stadium plan

A consortium seeking to build a 50,000-seat, fully enclosed waterfront stadium in Auckland has met with the planning committee of the New Zealand city’s council to discuss the proposal.

The Auckland Waterfront Stadium has asked the council to support a feasibility study that would last between 12 and 18 months.

The consortium has proposed building a new stadium alongside a redeveloped Bledisloe Wharf, and has promised that the project would cost nothing for ratepayers and taxpayers. The project would cost a reported NZ$1.8bn (£933m/€1.068bn/$1.2bn).

The consortium has been working on the proposal for 18 months, with the project also including plans for the redevelopment of Auckland’s iconic Eden Park stadium for residential use.

The project is yet to receive the backing of the council, which it says is still owed money by Eden Park. Discussing the potential cost of the feasibility study during the meeting with the consortium, councillor Linda Cooper said, according to the Newsroom website: “We have heard it might be NZ$4m. If this does not go ahead, is that underwritten and we might get that back?”

Dave Wigmore, chair of the consortium, said the group has a preference for shared funding from the council or the government, but stressed the money for the facilitation phase could be provided by private backers or philanthropists. Newsroom’s report added that Wigmore said any money contributed by the council would be treated by the consortium as a loan, and would eventually be paid back by the stadium developer.

Cooper also raised the subject of the council’s relationship with Eden Park, and suggested it would be unreasonable for the consortium to claim that the council would not have to contribute financially to any new stadium.

Cooper said: “We are owed money by Eden Park… we could be in for up to NZ$60m. We have sunk a lot of money and risk into Eden Park and we don’t have any governance role. We are told we need to keep putting money in. You cannot say categorically that it (the waterfront stadium) is at no cost to the council.”

The consortium is keen for work to begin on the project as soon as possible to ensure that a separate proposal from the Ports of Auckland company to potentially build a new carpark on Bledisloe Wharf does not take precedence.

Image: DXR