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Auckland City Leads Arena Investigation

City leads arena investigation

Auckland City Council is calling for private sector leadership of the development and ongoing management of an indoor arena for its leasehold 5ha Quay Park site on the edge of the central city.

The arena would host major sports and entertainment events – basketball, netball, concerts and ice sports, which promoters say New Zealand is now missing out on because it does not have a large enough indoor venue.

The Council began advertising last week, in New Zealand and offshore, for expressions of interest and outline proposals for the 10,000 to 14,000 seat arena.

At the same time it will begin a public information and consultation process.

No Decision Made

Chairperson of the Council’s City Attractions Committee, Cr Victoria Carter, says no decision has been made to proceed with the arena. "The dual process we have embarked on is designed to test both the event industry’s and the public’s commitment to such a venue.

"The EOI process will determine the level of investment support for the concept from the private sector, while the public information and consultation process will gauge the public’s support and seek information about what issues the Council should take into account if the planning progresses."

"Council’s role, if it decides to proceed with the project, will be to facilitate the development of a financially viable indoor arena on Quay Park, while negating or minimising the cost to Auckland City ratepayers.

"We don’t want the valuable work done by the Hillary Commission to be forgotten. Seeking outside funds is a way of taking the risk away from ratepayers."

Hillary Commission Recommendation

The investigation follows an evaluation by the Hillary Commission in 1998 of three possible arena sites in the Auckland Region. That evaluation, requested by the Auckland Regional Council to avoid duplication of facilities in the region, looked at the Ericsson Stadium at Mt Smart (proposed by the Regional Council), the Manukau stadium site (proposed by Manukau City Council) and the Quay Park site (proposed by the Auckland City Council).

"The Hillary Commission’s recommendation was that Quay Park, in downtown Auckland, is the preferred site because if its accessibility and its proximity to public transport, accommodation and downtown facilities," Cr Carter says.

"According to overseas experience, the site meets all the criteria for a successful arena position."

Hillary Commission chairman Sir Wilson Whineray said, when the commission had its recommendation: "If the opportunity is taken up, and a stadium of high quality constructed, it will benefit the Auckland region and New Zealand for many years."

The Leasehold Site

The Quay Park site was secured by the previous council, by a 150-year lease from its owners the Ngati Whatua O Orakei Maori Trust.

"The lease does not commit Auckland City – or any other party – to building an arena on the site. The site would be equally valuable and sought after for other purposes if the arena does not go ahead."

The estimated cost of building an arena is between $80 and $100 million. Carparking and other infrastructural costs would take the total cost to between $120 and $150 million.

Victoria Carter says: "The Council is calling for submissions from potential developers and operators by 10 December. Independent financial, operating, design and technical experts would be included in the evaluation panel to assess submissions."

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