Auckland has to give itself sporting chance
Stadium development can be undertaken alongside our ambitious transport and housing strategies.
If Auckland is serious about being a world-class city, we must encourage an aspirational approach to venues and stadiums. Regional Facilities Auckland isn’t simply looking at how it serves Auckland today, it’s projecting 20 to 50 years into the future.
The finishing touches are being applied to a venue development strategy that caters for the current demands on Auckland stadiums and planning how the city can future-proof infrastructure for changing user and fan needs.
How will population growth and changing demographics affect our needs? Can we cope with the introduction of emerging sports, guarantee the sustainability of current franchises and enable us to attract international events?
Let’s be honest, Auckland lags behind comparable cities in the world when it comes to having “fit for purpose” stadiums. We are missing out on important cultural, community and economic opportunities.
Our southern cousins in Dunedin had the foresight to purpose-build a covered, rectangular stadium and develop an outdoor oval, both to world class, testmatch standard. Cardiff, Melbourne, Perth and Vancouver have all recently made sporting stadiums an intrinsic part of city renewal and rejuvenation.
Auckland could be just as good. And better. Stadium development can be undertaken alongside our ambitious transport and housing strategies, ensuring future Auckland is as outstanding then as it is promising now.
Regional Facilities Auckland has been tasked by the Auckland Council to boost fan experience, to grow returns and reduce stadiums’ operating costs, to significantly increase venue utilisation, and to remove duplication in capital investment. All for the benefit of Auckland ratepayers.
It’s a delicate juggling act with shifting forces, but after extensive consultation, the strategy is a tribute to common sense and doing the very thing we’re here for — what’s right for the overwhelming majority.
All motorsport classes are consolidated into one “fit for purpose” motorsport venue. Cricketers, both local and international, are accorded the respect of being able to play on an appropriate oval. Top footy codes are excited by the prospect of a dedicated international stadium, be it a new, downtown venue or an augmented Eden Park.
The strategy is backed by local, national and international sporting bodies. In submissions or previously publicly stated positions, heavy hitters like New Zealand Rugby, the Warriors, New Zealand Football, the Blues, New Zealand Cricket, the NRL and the AFL have each supported the aims of the strategy.
As a region, as a gateway to the country, as a world-class city, we can’t be myopic or self-serving. We need to move forward. Creative thinking should be applauded and supported, much like the recent enthusiasm given to rethinking Auckland’s waterfront.
The stadium solutions will future-proof Auckland and generate world-class venues to host sporting, musical and cultural events of any shape and size, on a global city scale, for the next 50 years.
This is not a short-term fix, it’s the future. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, our opportunity, to ensure Auckland’s infrastructure challenges and recreational needs are addressed in unison. That sounds like a smart strategy to me. Let’s get on with it.