A new central city stadium and an international Cricket/AFL oval at Western Springs are included in a Venue Development Strategy released by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.
Produced by Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA), the Venue Development Strategy outlines a future vision for Auckland’s venues that:
- Investigates the possibility of a new central city stadium or a redeveloped Eden Park
- Designates Western Springs as an oval sport field for cricket and AFL, and retains Ponsonby Rugby as a key tenant.
- Invests in transforming Mt Smart into a community stadium with a high-performance training facility.
- Invests in transforming QBE Stadium into a community stadium, and continues to invest in high-performance training facilities at the venue.
- Commits to find a long-term home for speedway in Auckland.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “For Auckland to be a world-class city, we need world-class venues and stadiums.
“We should be aspirational in our planning for stadiums in Auckland to ensure we have modern and connected facilities that can host international sporting and cultural events now and into the future.
“Like many Kiwis, I would love to see us host another Rugby World Cup or even a Commonwealth Games and the reports acknowledge that the likelihood of New Zealand hosting a major international event will advance the need for a decision.
“Money is always going to be a significant and deciding factor in delivering world-class stadiums, and right now we simply do not have any available for a new stadium, but it is right to look at our options.
“Auckland Council does not see spending on a new stadium as a priority compared to investment in critical issues such as transport, housing and the environment. And although initial discussions with the government have been positive, they have clearly indicated that they have more urgent priorities to address.”
AFL New Zealand CEO Robert Vanstam stated that support provided by Regional Facilities Auckland through its new development strategy would be a major catalyst in securing AFL content in New Zealand and will assist in driving the future development of the game.
Significant entries regarding AFL:
Moving from an era of regional facilities which were multi-purpose and competed against those of neighbouring cities, Auckland today needs venues which are fit-for-purpose. Such venues can still support multiple users but must offer layouts, locations and facilities specific to each code or user. This would include a dedicated venue or venues for football codes such as rugby, rugby league and soccer (rectangular stadium) and an oval sport facility for cricket (with ability to host AFL).
Western Springs will soon be phased out as a motorsport venue, consistent with the Unitary Plan zoning for the venue and the limitations created by its inner city location. A future option is that it be developed as a world-class Cricket Ground for all forms of cricket. It could also host Australian Rules Football (AFL) premiership fixtures. New Zealand Cricket has indicated it would locate a satellite facility to complement their high performance activity in Christchurch and there is potential for them to have their administration base at Western Springs, providing RFA with a market-based rental stream. Funding for the redevelopment of Western Springs into a cricket ground was approved by Auckland Council in 2015 through the 2015-2024 Long Term Plan process. Western Springs will continue to be a venue for concerts and festivals and for Ponsonby Rugby Football Club, which already occupies part of the precinct. Any Western Springs development will form a key part of the Western Springs Precinct complementing Western Springs Park, Auckland Zoo and MOTAT. (Plus picture featuring Sammy McKenzie.)
The northern region of Auckland will experience continuing growth and sports related demand in the foreseeable future. QBE Stadium is being re-purposed as a high performance training facility and event venue, continuing to be utilised as a community stadium for the sporting codes it supports (North Harbour Rugby, New Zealand Football).
A High Performance sports hub will support New Zealand Football, North Harbour Rugby and potentially New Zealand Rugby and AFL. This facility will be managed by the Massey University School of Sport. Baseball will also feature under proposals to utilise the main stadium in summer months for a new franchise in the Australian Baseball League. Under the Venue Development Strategy, RFA has already invested in new training fields to expand the training and community sport facilities available in the region. QBE Stadium will continue to be available as an additional venue for concerts and festivals.