South Stand gives up a secret
A secret escape route installed in Eden Park’s South Stand during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour was revealed last week.
Trapdoors were put in a few days before South Africa’s test against the All Blacks to allow the side a quick escape from antiapartheid protesters, who it was feared could storm the ground.
And 25 years later they have come to light again as demolition begins on the stand for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Redevelopment project manager Bruce Hanvey says the Springboks could escape from the members area they slept in the night before the test through an upstairs trapdoor, into the changing rooms and out of the ground.
Holes were also installed in the adjoining walls of the Eden Park trust board office and other areas so officials had access to the escape route.
“Next door was the cash room and ticket office, so if there was any problem they could escape with the players,” Mr Hanvey says.
While Mr Hanvey doesn’t know whether the stand could have survived any explosions by the protesters, he is sure it would have lasted against another attack that took place during the match itself.
“It was flour bomb proof,” he says.
Rugby World Cup minister Clayton Cosgrove, who inspected the trapdoors, says the redevelopment of the park is a “pivotal part” of the cup preparation.
But he was also quick to point out that Eden Park is just one part of a nationwide effort to make the tournament a success.
Mr Cosgrove also expressed mixed emotions as he operated a digger that ripped up part of the South Stand’s lower level.
“As a Cantabrian I have very interesting feelings about the destruction of Eden Park.”
The first phase of demolition is scheduled to take between six and eight weeks, while the Eastern Terraces and Panasonic Stand will go in mid-2009.
Construction of the new stand could start as early as mid-September.
Escape route: Eden Park redevelopment project manager Bruce Hanvey checks out one of the secret doors that could have been used to get out of the South Stand in a hurry during the 1981 Springbok tour.