My view on the stadium debate

I said a couple of weeks ago that I’m a huge fan of the Wellington stadium, and that I wasn’t opposed to the principle of a “national stadium” on Auckland’s waterfront/ The decision is between expanding Eden Park and the waterfront stadium. The issues for me, with weighting, are:

Location 25%
Cost 20%
Design 15%
Time 15%
Environment 10%
Governance 10%
Funding 5%

Location

This one is easy. A location which is walkable from the CBD, has good public transport nearby, and which has local bars for the after match functions does make a huge difference to attendances. The waterfront location is far superior to Eden Park.

I’d give the Waterfront 9/10 normally, but as there are some issues over exactly where on the waterfront it might go only 8/10. Eden Park gets 2/10.

Cost

Eden Park has already had its cost blowout from $120 million to $385 million. So only 5/10 for them.

The waterfront starting estimate is $500 million. People expect it to increase to a billion or so. And with no tendering for base construction and no price caps it will increase. Add on a labour shortage and prices can only go up/further. So 2/10 for Waterfront.

Design

Eden Park design is okay – say 6/10. The waterfront design is labeled the bedpan so need more be said. It’s a 3/10. If they went with the waka design I’d give it a 9/10.

Time

There are no serious concerns over Eden Park finishing on time. So 9/10. The waterfront proposal is more uncertain. In fact we won’t know until mid next year if it can even be built on the waterfront. And already injunctions are sought over lack of consultation. The risk that we default on the RWC hosting rights is not insignificant. 3/10 for waterfront.

Environment

Eden Park does affect nearby residents but they knew that when they purchased properties there. The height of the proposed waterfront stadium appears to be greater than “official graphics” have shown” and it will block many views. Eden Park 6/10, Waterfront 3/10.

Governance

Eden Park has a Trust Board in place who are responsible for redeveloping Eden Park. This proposed waterfront stadium has no owner, no manager, no governance, no structure. Governance is not a minor issue to be worked out afterwards. Who will oversee the construction? Civil Servants? A committee of ACC, ARC and NZG reps? Who has legal liability for issues. Who funds a cost blowout?

Eden Park 8/10, Waterfront 1/10

Funding

This isn’t what the cost might be, but how equitable is the proposed funding between ratepayers, taxpayers and tourists.

The waterfront proposal can only be funded by a bed and hotel tax on tourists. This is manifestly unfair as tourists will be a very very small portion of users of the stadium over its life. A tourism tax is not a tax NZ needs.

Eden Park will be funded by primarily ratepayers, with some taxpayer support. This is how Wellington’s stadium was funded. SO Eden Park 7/10 and Waterfront 4/10.

Summary

Totalling them up, Eden Park gets a 5.7 and the Waterfront a 3.9. That feels about right to me. Eden Park is marginally above the pass line, and the Waterfront is a fair way below it.

The tragedy is there is no option which one can score a 7 or higher. If work on a waterfront proposal had started a year ago, then many of its low marks could have been made higher. Carlaw Park had great potential also. But you can’t develop a proposal in secret, give people two weeks to decide on it, and then expect it to work. I mean the design is in fact not even a design, but a design concept. Just not enough homework and facts done to make voting for the waterfront proposal sensible or safe. Of course that won’t stop many Councillors doing just that!

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