Safety of stadium standing room questioned
A $2.57 million project which created elevated standing room for events at Western Springs Stadium is still facing criticism.
‘‘In an era when nearly all major stadiums have been converted to seating, for both customer comfort and safety, you have to ask about a major section of terracing that is set up for large numbers of people standing,’’ councillor John Watson says.
‘‘In this respect there are a number of possible health and safety concerns that emerge from the design and construction that has been used here.’’
Watson says the bigger picture is that a disturbing number of Auckland sport clubs also struggle with inferior grounds and facilities.
‘‘A portion of the millions
of dollars being wasted in this expensive strategy could be going into helping the grassroots clubs who are struggling.’’
In the city a number of grounds are ‘‘hopelessly over subscribed’’ by sports groups, he says.
Work on the terracing finished late February.
The project was paid for by council group Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA).
An RFA spokesman says the terracing project aims to create a safer space for event-goers.
‘‘Historically the embankment has accommodated over 14,000 people at major events on uneven and very steep slopes. The terracing now provides capacity for these people to stand on level ground while still enjoying the elevated views of the concert.’’
The project ran over by $70,000 because the RFA added artificial turf to the terracing. RFA says it’s safer than natural turf.
The terracing project was designed in full accordance with The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds. Also known as the Green Guide, it is an internationally supported design method used to safely accommodate attendees.
Western Springs Stadium’s future is tied up in a $30 million masterplan to revamp and upgrade Auckland’s stadiums.
Part of the masterplan for Western Springs includes reshaping it for international test cricket. The funding for this plan was part of Auckland’s 10-year budget.
It will not be actioned until the budget is confirmed and the speedway has moved to Mt Smart Stadium, RFA says.
RFA also plans to remove a number of buildings at the stadium ‘‘to provide a more pleasant park-like setting’’ for events.
Commercial returns via RFA are supporting community sport users.
‘‘If Auckland is to continue attracting those high profile events then its stadium complexes need to be developed in such a manner that makes it attractive to those hirers.’’