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Major sports back Auckland stadium strategy

New Zealand’s favourite sports have backed Regional Facilities Auckland’s vision for enhancing the city’s outdoor stadium infrastructure.

The Mayor’s office has released RFA’s Venue Development Strategy (VDS) which aims to overcome Auckland’s ageing stadium infrastructure and develop fit-for-purpose facilities that better meet the city’s needs.

The VDS recommends speedway shift from Western Springs to allow the development of an international-quality oval sports field and that a full business case determine the viability of a central city rectangular stadium compared to the cost and benefits of redeveloping Eden Park.

The RFA strategy has been backed by local, national and international sporting bodies. In terms of submissions or previously publicly stated positions, leading organisations such as New Zealand Cricket, New Zealand Rugby, the Vodafone Warriors, New Zealand Football, the Blues, the NRL and the AFL have all supported the aims of the VDS.

New Zealand Cricket CEO David White says Auckland is missing out on being allocated fixtures because existing stadium options aren’t friendly for users or fans.

“A newly-developed cricket amenity, with a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena, able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding, would guarantee Auckland significantly more men’s and women’s international cricket,” Mr White said.

New Zealand Football, likewise, believe Auckland is missing out and “fully support” the RFA approach and strategy.

“Whilst there are lots of football fans in Auckland, the city is losing out on some big fixtures to other cities,” CEO Andy Martin said, pointing to last year’s World Cup play-off between the All Whites and Peru, the largest-ever football crowd in New Zealand, being hosted in Wellington.

New Zealand Rugby’s Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass says the organisation supports the aims of the VDS and believes Auckland, as the country’s biggest city, is important to rugby’s continued growth and ability to cater for its participants and supporters.

“We are very aware that fan expectations are changing and we need to keep improving that experience to stay relevant and engage current and new fans,” Mr Cass said.

“Any stadium planning needs to consider the wider, changing needs of codes like ours including a focus on the women’s game, new competitions, the needs of Super Rugby, Provincial Rugby and Club and Schools rugby as well as events such as Sevens and All Blacks Tests and be scalable for a range of competitions and formats.”

New Zealand Rugby League acting CEO Hugh Martyn says a downtown stadium solution is long overdue and would an amenity the whole country could be proud of.

“Other cities around the world have made central city stadiums real success stories and we don’t see Auckland’s situation being any different,” Mr Martyn said. “We view a new state-of-the-art stadium as being good for all sport in Auckland and beneficial for the rest of the country too.”

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg says his organisation is “very excited” about the potential for a new purpose-built rectangular stadium in the heart of Auckland.

“Having a world-class stadium in the city will provide a compelling case to bring the NRL’s marquee events to Auckland,” Mr Greenberg said.

“When we determine where we want to play our best content, a key consideration is giving our fans and players the best possible experience.”

RFA CEO Chris Brooks said the Venue Development Strategy is one of the most important building blocks in developing the Auckland of the future.

“Because of the number of stakeholders involved in the process, we see the Venue Development Strategy as belonging to the city,” Mr Brooks said.

“The decisions being made now will serve future generations and ensure the long-term sustainability of important sporting, music and cultural events, providing the best possible experience for hirers, fans and the wider Auckland ratepayer.”

Ends

Read the Venue Development Strategy here.


SPORTING BODYVDS POSITION
New Zealand Cricket“NZC is aware of the RFA’s Venue Development Plan and is supportive of its direction. Developing a fit-for-purpose, yet multi-use cricket venue is viewed as essential for bringing more Tests, ODIs, and T20 Internationals to Auckland, as well as upcoming tournaments of significance such as the ICC Women’s World Cup. As proposed, a newly-developed cricket amenity, with a full-sized, oval-shaped playing arena; able to cater for both small and large crowds in a relaxed, grass-banked, more cricket-centric surrounding, would guarantee Auckland significantly more men’s and women’s international cricket. It would also be an ideal venue for more top domestic and age-group fixtures. We have been engaged in discussions with Auckland Council, with Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) and other stakeholders around options for match venues in Auckland. Our view is that a purpose-built, but flexible-use cricket venue would provide a low-cost base from which all parties would benefit. That is: more content for Auckland sports lovers, another top entertainment option; a better fan experience for those at the venue, and greater economic benefits for the city.” - David White, CEO
New Zealand Rugby“New Zealand Rugby supports the aims of the RFA’s Venue Development Strategy. Auckland – as New Zealand’s biggest city – is important to rugby. We are very aware that fan expectations are changing and we need to keep improving that experience to stay relevant and engage current and new fans. Any stadium planning needs to consider the wider, changing needs of codes like ours including a focus on the women’s game, new competitions, the needs of Super Rugby, Provincial Rugby and Club and Schools rugby as well as events such as Sevens and All Blacks Tests and be scalable for a range of competitions and formats.” - Nigel Cass, Chief Rugby Officer
New Zealand Football“Whilst there are lots of football fans in Auckland, the city is losing out on some big fixtures to other cities. Take for example the recent World Cup play-off game (the largest ever football crowd in NZ) which was hosted in Wellington. We have been engaged with RFA around the Venue Development Strategy and we fully support the approach. We are excited by the development of high-performance training facilities (QBE Stadium) and have provided direct investment to support the RFA spend.” - Andy Martin, CEO
New Zealand Rugby League“Auckland desperately needs a downtown stadium as mooted in the RFA’s Venue Development Strategy. It’s long overdue. Other cities around the world have made central city stadiums real success stories and we don’t see Auckland’s situation being any different. We view a new state-of-the-art stadium as being good for all sport in Auckland and beneficial for the rest of the country too.” - Hugh Martyn, Acting CEO


Vodafone Warriors

“As we have previously stated, the Vodafone Warriors support the strategy and are excited about the long-term benefits a downtown stadium in Auckland would provide. We look forward to continuing to be involved in the consultation process and working with all associated parties.” – Cameron George, CEO
The Blues“In principle, the Blues support the concept of a new CBD stadium for Auckland and the club would seriously consider any proposal presented to us to become a core user. We would hope that should the proposal gain traction, that its promoters would consult widely with core users to ensure any development meets the needs of the key tenants, their teams and fans. The Blues, who are anchor tenant at Eden Park where they play seven-eight homes games a year, will continue to work closely with the Eden Park Trust to improve its functionality and the game day experience for members and fans within the operational and infrastructure constraints. However the Blues would register a clear interest in a downtown stadium should it become a reality.” - Michael Redman, CEO
NRL“The NRL commends Auckland Council for taking the next step on its Venue Development Strategy. We are very excited about the potential of playing rugby league in a new purpose built rectangular stadium in the heart of Auckland. A new stadium will deliver the Warriors’ loyal fans and members the world class experience they deserve and it will help grow the rugby league supporter base in New Zealand. We know there’s a strong appetite for rugby league major events in New Zealand and having a world-class stadium in the city will provide a compelling case to bring the NRL’s marquee events to Auckland. When we determine where we want to play our best content a key consideration is giving our fans and players the best possible experience. Whilst Mt Smart is a good stadium, it is being left behind when compared to other venues that host rugby league’s marquee matches.” - Todd Greenberg, CEO


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