Arena plan gets support
A new 10,000-seat indoor arena near Westpac Stadium could help Wellington emulate the success of Melbourne’s sport and entertainment precinct, stadium boss Shane Harmon says.
Mayors from the Wellington region took a bold step on Tuesday, commissioning a feasibility report into the proposed venture that would help attract big international acts to perform in the capital.
The report will be driven by Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (Wreda), which will assess issues such as land acquisition, arena design, funding and location.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester claimed there was a clear preference for the facility to be built near the stadium.
Two nearby sites were being considered, but their exact locations were being kept under wraps, while a third option of building the arena in Petone was also on the table.
Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon felt building an adjacent indoor facility would ‘‘complement the stadium really well’’.
He pointed to Melbourne, which has Rod Laver Arena (15,000 seats), AAMI Park (30,050 seats) and Hisense Arena (10,000 seats) in the same area, as a good lead to follow.
‘‘I think Melbourne and Olympic Parks and their precinct is probably the prime example of a large number of sporting facilities and arenas within close proximity of each other.’’
The precinct is home to a number of professional sports teams, including rugby league’s Melbourne Storm, football’s Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, and Super Rugby’s Rebels.
‘‘Anything that goes towards replicating that model would be an advantage ... certainly from a stadium perspective, we would welcome an arena within our precinct,’’ Harmon said.
He believed the arena could also create retail opportunities for the area, including new restaurants and bars.
‘‘The big improvement would be creating a precinct around the stadium. While we’re obviously downtown and close to public transport, there are no facilities in the immediate vicinity.
‘‘One of the stadium’s benefits is that it’s so close to public transport and is also walking distance from the city. The new arena would share that,’’ Harmon added.
Wellington property developer Ian Cassels, of The Wellington Company, said he favoured a location in the city centre, but putting it near the stadium would allow ‘‘for a crossover of amenity’’.
‘‘I think the place you’ve got to start at is ‘How can this city be a self-respecting city without this [arena]?’
‘‘We need a music venue of size and ability, otherwise we’re not really the city we think we are. We have to have one, it’s just a case of where we best put it.’’
Concert promoter Phil Sprey felt the log farm across the road from Westpac Stadium would be the ‘‘ideal location’’, but wondered whether the option was ‘‘less viable’’ as a result of November’s Kaikoura quake.
‘‘Over the rail yards would be a very good secondary location, provided all of the shaking and moving of trains is taken into consideration.
‘‘If they can do all that, then that would be great location.’’