Auckland’s SuperDome a step closer
14 August 2002
Auckland’s SuperDome a step closer
Auckland City Council is pushing ahead with plans for a 12,000-seat indoor sports and entertainment arena in downtown Auckland.
It has signed an agreement to work with Australian company Abigroup Limited on the detail of the proposal, with the aim of confirming by March next year whether or not it will proceed with an unconditional development agreement.
Confirmation to proceed would mean Aucklanders could be celebrating the opening of the Auckland SuperDome – a smaller version of the Sydney SuperDome built at Homebush for the Sydney Olympics – in 2005.
The chairman of the council’s Recreation and Events Committee, Councillor Scott Milne, says the heads of agreement is a significant milestone in planning which has so far spanned six years and three council terms.
“The agreement is confirmation that this council has done its due diligence on the proposal and is now ready to negotiate the detail of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of an arena.
“While there is a lot of work still to be done, the council is confident the new venue will help put Auckland on the map as a vibrant city that offers world-class events and facilities.”
Beating Auckland’s weather
The arena proposed would be New Zealand’s largest all-weather live entertainment and sporting venue.
Councillor Milne says it would enable promoters to stage international events in Auckland that are now bypassing New Zealand because there is no indoor venue of the size and quality required, and because promoters are not prepared to risk Auckland’s weather at an outdoor venue.
“It will be a world class, high-tech venue that, because of its unique design, will be able to hold very large or quite small events.
“The kinds of events range from concerts and musicals that New Zealanders now must go to Melbourne or Sydney for, international netball that goes to Invercargill, Palmerston North and Hamilton rather than Auckland, equestrian events and family shows like Beauty and the Beast.”
A public-private partnership
Councillor Milne says Abigroup was chosen as the council’s preferred partner in the venture from three proponents shortlisted to make detailed bids from expressions of interest called for in 1999.
Abigroup Limited is a publicly listed civil, building, asset maintenance and infrastructure investment company which operates mainly on the east coast of Australia. It designed, developed and now manages the $A200 million Sydney SuperDome, a 20,000 seat indoor arena, in a BOOT partnership with the New South Wales government.
Under the BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) partnership proposed between Abigroup and Auckland City Council, the council would contribute $50 million to the cost of the arena and Abigroup would contribute the balance of the estimated $80 million cost.
Abigroup would build, own, operate and maintain the arena at its own risk. The building would then be transferred to council ownership at the end of 30 years at no additional cost to the city.
“Essentially, Aucklanders are getting a world-class facility at minimal risk and minimal cost.”
Other proposed venues
Councillor Milne says to give the arena the best possible chance of success, the council has given an undertaking to Abigroup to hold off funding other venues that could compete with it during its establishment.
This agreement will not affect the council’s ability to fund community facilities such as swimming pools, recreation centres, community centres and libraries.
It means the council would, if it wanted to, be free to contribute to:
Covered seating at Carlaw Park
A new convention centre in the Aotea precinct or elsewhere in the city, opening after August 2007. The council would compensate Abigroup in decreasing amounts until 2012 if a council funded convention centre established from 2008 affected the company’s convention business at the arena.
A covered tennis centre with up to 5000 seats from 2009
Improvements to the Auckland Showgrounds from 2007
A second indoor arena or entertainment venue with 3,500 seats or more, opening after February 2015.
The council has also agreed to match any increased trading activities funding to The Edge with a contribution to the SuperDome, but only for community events.
Councillor Milne says the council had made significant investments in recent years in upgrading the Auckland Town Hall ($34 Million), Civic Theatre ($42 Million) and Viaduct Basin ($40 Million). “All have contributed to Auckland being a place where people want to be, because it can offer art, culture and entertainment equal to the best in the world.
“But the city cannot rest on its laurels. More investment will be needed in the future to provide world-class venues for exhibitions, conventions and sport.
“Such venues are all part of the infrastructure of a successful city, which will stay on the council’s radar screen for future funding.”
Another waterfront redevelopment
The SuperDome would be built at Quay Park, a site on the seaward side of the former Auckland Railway Station in Beach Road in downtown Auckland which is owned by Ngati Whatua o Orakei and leased to the council for 150 years.
“The most financially viable arenas in the world are those that are in CBDs, close to transport, hotels, motels, entertainment and restaurants. Quay Park meets these criteria perfectly.
“It will support the major investment in the Britomart transport centre and in the motorway extension in the Grafton Gully.”
He said it would also be the catalyst for redevelopment of another section of the Auckland waterfront, and will complement the Viaduct Basin.