Safety of sta­dium stand­ing room ques­tioned

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS ETHERIDGE

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.’’

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