Arena a success
Five years after its controversial launch, Te Rauparaha Arena has proved critics wrong.
The sports and events stadium will celebrate its anniversary on November 21, having exceeded even its own staff’s expectations of success.
In 2008, 25 full-day bookings were forecast for 2013; the reality is 100. In the past year, 259,000 people have visited the arena.
‘‘I’ve had a lot of people say to me, ‘What did we ever do before the stadium?’’’ business manager Helen Brookes said.
‘‘I don’t think we knew what we could achieve.’’
During its design and construction, the arena copped huge opposition from ratepayers. Criticisms included its cost – $17.5 million – its encroachment on to the green space of Te Rauparaha Park; and even its name. Some believed it was inappropriate to name a stadium after a Ngati Toa warlord.
‘‘We’d just come up against one objection after another,’’ Ms Brookes said.
In fact, the arena was built to budget, and two-thirds of the cost came from grants and the sale of Aotea block. Although the arena costs ratepayers $1.7m a year, its gym income of $200,000 a year helped with running costs, manager Willie Taurima said.
‘‘Eight out of 10 people who were against the buildings have probably calmed down and said, ‘It’s not a white elephant’.’’