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Auckland to debate future of North Harbour Stadium

Featured image credit: North Harbour Stadium

Auckland Council has raised the prospect of demolishing North Harbour Stadium, with the long-term future of the venue looking uncertain.

The 22,000-capacity Albany venue opened in 1997, but has become something of a white elephant, being rarely used and running at a heavy loss to Auckland taxpayers. The stadium was one of many elements included as the Council opened up its Long-term Plan 2024-2034 for public consultation, giving Aucklanders the chance to have their say on the options and trade-offs that will influence region-wide activities, services and investment.

On behalf of Council, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited (TAU) owns and operates the North Harbour Stadium precinct. Based on low utilisation and attendance, and the high cost to run the stadium and fund necessary capital upgrades, the council is seeking feedback on options for the future of the stadium precinct to better deliver for the needs of the North Shore community and the greater Auckland region.

The Council has set out three options for the future of the stadium. Firstly, maintain the status quo and invest in essential renewals of NZ$33m (£15.9m/€18.6m/$20.1m) over 10 years. Secondly, redevelop the precinct, which could include deconstruction of the existing stadium, to better deliver for the needs of the North Shore community and the greater Auckland region, funded through the reallocation of the NZ$33m funding, the sale of some precinct land while retaining the existing community playing fields, and any other external funding available.

The third option is to change the operational management of North Harbour Stadium to ensure greater use by the community. Changes to operational management are being considered in addition to either of the first two options.

TAO chief executive, Nick Hill, believes the point has been reached at which stakeholders need to take an honest look at the stadium, and its future. He told Stuff.co.nz: “The data shows that it’s just not being utilised at a level that justifies the current stadium and the council is looking to use its assets and facilities as efficiently as it can. That does force the community to make some choices and I think we’re at that point.

“COVID forced the issues to a head. It wasn’t utilised as much as the other stadiums before COVID and coming out of it, the other stadiums have recovered and North Harbour hasn’t shown any signs of being in demand.”

The news concerning North Harbour Stadium comes after plans were unveiled last month for a proposed new 55,000-seat stadium in the Quay Park area of Auckland.

The stadium would form part of a wider 15-hectare precinct that would also include hotels, bars, restaurants, retail and office space, residential apartments and green spaces. One of the hotels would be themed on New Zealand’s national rugby union team, the All Blacks.