Park naming rights an option
SELLING the naming rights to Eden Park is one option the ground’s new trust board will consider as it seeks to make up a $12 million shortfall in its redevelopment budget.
The board was reshuffled last month, with five new government appointees reflecting the taxpayers’ $190m investment in the upgrade.
New chairman John Waller, who also chairs the Eden Park Redevelopment Board, says with construction ahead of schedule, the trust board’s focus will now move to raising the money needed to complete the $240m project.
“We really concentrated on getting the park up and running to start with. Now we’re looking at finding quality sponsorship.
“It’s a natural evolution. We’re focusing on how we can make the park a proud asset for the Auckland region.”
Renaming the park, along with selling the naming rights to grandstands and offering different membership options, are just some of the ways that have been identified to balance the books.
Mr Waller says the board will need to make some tough decisions.
“It’s tricky and we need to make sure we’ve looked at all the possible sponsorship options.”
But he acknowledges the name Eden Park is important to many different groups, including the International Rugby Board which awarded New Zealand the tournament.
Outgoing Eden Park Redevelopment Board chief executive Adam Feeley says potential naming rights is the biggest asset the board has at its disposal.
However, he says if nam- ing rights were sold, the title Eden Park may stand side by side with the name of a commercial partner.
“To be honest some sponsors see the value of being associated with the name of the park.”
New board member and sports lawyer Derek Dallow says Eden Park is an internationally recognised brand and any change would need to be carefully considered.
“What the value of that brand is I’m not sure, but it has a lot of history.”
He says securing longterm sponsorship beyond the 2011 Rugby World Cup is also important for the fi- nancial stability of the stadium.
Board member and Auckland Cricket Association chairman Rex Smith says the name Eden Park is important in both a historical and commercial sense.
“Eden Park as a brand is something the previous board were very keen to protect.
“I would be surprised if we move away from that.”
He says while cricket and rugby maintain their rights to use the park, he hopes the ground will get more use from other sporting and cultural groups once the redevelopment is finished.
Mr Waller says holding more events at the stadium is crucial.
“If you look at its use compared with other stadiums in Australasia, it’s probably used less than others.”
Joining Mr Waller, Mr Smith and Mr Dallow on the new board are former National Party president Michelle Boag, former ASB Bank chief Hugh Burrett and businessman Morris Pita.
Robert Fisher and Warwick Nicoll from the previous board retain their positions, while Auckland Rugby’s representative is Greg Muir.