Eden Park buoyed by concerts ruling

Eden Park has hailed a ruling today (Friday) which opens up a new revenue stream for the historic Auckland stadium by allowing it to stage up to six concerts per year.

Today’s judgement from a panel of independent commissioners in the New Zealand city concludes a long-running effort from Eden Park to ease the process to stage music events at the stadium. While Eden Park has been allowed to host concerts, the Eden Park Trust Board previously had to apply for approval on a case-by-case basis, a process that could cost NZ$100,000 (£53,000/€59,000/$72,000) and take up to 18 months to realise.

Concerts can now take place on weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays preceding a public holiday, and public holidays, subject to restrictions on frequency, duration and timing. “We’ve been inundated with messages of congratulations this afternoon from a range of society,” Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner said today.

“Our community came together to make this decision possible and we couldn’t have done it without each of these individuals. We are thrilled to have an overwhelming level of support to deliver more experiences for New Zealanders, which further showcases the ongoing positive relationship Eden Park has with its neighbours.”

Eden Park first made the application in October 2019, with the staging of music events said to be a vital part of securing the stadium’s future after Auckland Council in March 2019 approved a NZ$63m bailout for the venue consisting of NZ$53.5m of loans to address the stadium’s debt, and a NZ$9.8m grant for essential maintenance work over the next three years.

The stadium received extensive support for its application to host concerts when submissions were opened to the public in March 2020. Some 94% of submissions to Auckland Council were in favour of the proposal and a subsequent hearing was held in November in front of three independent commissioners.

Shona Tagg of the Eden Park Residents Association told the Stuff.co.nz website that she was “thrilled” concerts had been approved, adding that it was “a great decision, a great outcome.” Tagg said 95% of the association’s members had backed having concerts.

However, the proposal also drew opposition, most noticeably from former Prime Minister Helen Clark, a local resident. Mark Donnelly, president of the Eden Park Neighbours’ Association, told the New Zealand Herald that the group expected the decision given what developed from earlier hearings, and will now assess whether to lodge an appeal.

He added: “If this stands, we’ll see pressure to move rugby and cricket games in the peak February and March concert season. And cricket have effectively given up the outer oval, given the weeks of pack in and out.

“The winners will be the promoters who can drive down their hire costs, and the losers are not just locals impacted by huge noise levels, but ratepayers losing revenue from council venues, and the general commuting public who will also be impacted.”

The decision to grant approval allows for shows to be booked, scheduled and confirmed years in advance. The independent commissioners’ report released today states that granting consent to the application would promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.

Sautner added: “These events will provide employment opportunities and economic benefits for Auckland and the entire economy, as well as much-needed entertainment experiences for Kiwis. We have artists ready to announce shows at Eden Park however we are required to wait the appeal window is closed to share details.”

The appeal window closes in 15 working days.

Image: Eden Park