Mt Smart’s fu­ture in limbo?

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

Pre­dic­tions that Mt Smart Sta­dium could be con­signed to the scrapheap af­ter Auck­land be­comes a su­percity are be­ing rub­bished.

Re­cent re­ports have sug­gested the fu­ture of the Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil-owned ground might be in doubt, with the coun­cil set to be scrapped af­ter the 2010 lo­cal body elec­tions.

But chair­man Mike Lee doubts Mt Smart, which is home to the New Zealand War­riors and hosts many com­mu­nity sports events, is go­ing any­where.

“Mt Smart will still have a ma­jor role.

“I can’t see any other suit­able league and ath­let­ics sta­dium in cen­tral Auck­land and Mt Smart is at the epi­cen­tre of the Auck­land re­gion.

“To be hon­est we’re un­der pres­sure to de­velop an­other field that would en­able a lot more league to be played there.”

Mr Lee says even if a fu­ture su­per-coun­cil wanted to get rid of the 25-hectare sta­dium, it’s not that sim­ple.

“In the most un­likely pos­si­bil­ity of no sport be­ing played there, it is still a re­gional park. You can’t just sell it.”

The park, which is run as a sep­a­rate busi­ness unit of the coun­cil, took a fi­nan­cial hit last year when it lost $1.79 mil­lion af­ter host­ing David Beck­ham’s LA Galaxy side in a match against the Ocea­nia All Stars.

Only about 16,000 fans showed up for the match, with many more needed at the 30,000 ca­pac­ity ground, to break even.

The fi­nan­cial loss saw coun­cil parks man­ager Lance Ver­voort and Mt Smart Sta­dium group man­ager John Lynch re­sign.

Mr Lee says a new com­mit­tee that in­cludes him­self, for­mer Kiwi league player and events pro­moter Dean Lon­er­gan and coun­cil deputy chair­man Michael Bar­nett, will now di­rectly over­see Mt Smart’s op­er­a­tions.

“The Beck­ham af­fair brought to light some things. It be­came clear to us things could be run a hell of a lot bet­ter.”

New Zealand War­riors chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne Scur­rah says the club has no in­ten­tion of mov­ing to an­other venue any time soon.

“We are locked into a 15-year li­cence agree­ment.

“The size of the venue puts a bit of pres­sure on for fi­nals, but it cer­tainly suits what we need. It’s the ideal venue for us.”

The agree­ment with the coun­cil still has nine years to run.

But Mr Scur­rah ad­mits the chang­ing struc­ture of Auck­land’s lo­cal body pol­i­tics throws up a few ques­tions.

“We’d be very keen to un­der­stand what the fu­ture of the venue is.”

What­ever the fu­ture of the sta­dium, Mr Lee can guar­an­tee one thing.

“Mt Smart is go­ing to be around a lot longer than the ARC.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.