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Dunne: Stadium Auckland or Stadium Aotearoa?

Media statement
For immediate release
Wednesday, 8 November 2006
Dunne: Stadium Auckland or Stadium Aotearoa?

United Future leader Peter Dunne today called for clear thinking and straight talking on the issue of a national sports stadium.

"I have watched with growing alarm the confused, conflicting and often secretive debate over where a new or revamped stadium might be located; who will fund it; what happens to it after the 2011 Rugby World Cup; and whether it is intended to be an asset for an internationally-competitive Auckland; or an asset for New Zealand," he said.

"Frankly, I would have thought the whole issue would have been substantially settled a year ago when New Zealand secured the rights to the Cup.

"Now, a secret agenda has been sprung upon the nation – and Auckland local bodies in particular – to make a decision on an Auckland waterfront stadium within a week, with no information as to guarantees of consentability, funding or construction.

"You wouldn't design a backyard patio in this cavalier fashion and you shouldn't do so for Stadium Aotearoa.

"First, consider location. Though there is no compelling reason to place such a stadium in Auckland, viable Auckland alternatives to a new waterfront location include North Harbour Stadium, Mt Smart Stadium and Eden Park.

"Both North Harbour and Mt Smart are near major transport services and could be upgraded at a cost less than the figures that are being floated for the waterfront stadium.

"Mt Eden has the disadvantages of being located among high-density housing, lacking adequate transport access and being privately-owned.

"There's no guarantee an Auckland location will ensure a 60,000-capacity stadium will be filled on a regular basis.

"You could just as well spend money on upgrading Jade Stadium in Christchurch. It has good access to all major transport modes; it is accustomed to handling large volumes of transient tourists; and has few, if any, resource consent problems.

"Then, consider funding.

"If the stadium is meant to improve Auckland, then Auckland can pay for it by regional taxes or through local body rates.

"If, however, this is to be Stadium Aotearoa, then the nation should pay. The Government is currently sitting on a $3 billion cash surplus and no doubt more will be accumulated by 2011.

"By stretching payment out over a normal commercial period of time, then the taxpayer could well afford to invest in a national asset, useful not only for the occasional rugby match, but also musical concerts, military tattoos and the like, well into the future."

Mr Dunne said the construction of a national stadium is a matter of national, not party political, interest.

"I'd really like to see a national benefit analysis carried out rapidly so the whole nation can agree on what is best for New Zealand," he concluded.

ENDS

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