Guest Post: Vic Crone: A waterfront stadium for Auckland?

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The waterfront stadium topic is back again and I wanted to share some key points of this with you:

My key priorities as Mayor of Auckland will be to keep your rates as low as possible, get Council back to basics and delivering core services well, and to address our significant transport and housing issues. Given Eden Park received around $300 million of development for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and the Warriors are contracted to Mt Smart Stadium to 2028, the development of a waterfront stadium is simply not a priority right now. 

We need to get this Council delivering good, value for money services to Aucklanders and ensuring on-time, on-budget management of billions of dollars worth of infrastructure investments throughout the region. We still have neighbourhoods such as Rodney and Franklin without footpaths and communities facing further postponements of key local assets. 

Take a look at the Super City Council, it has 11,500 staff, (and those staff costs blew out by $63 million last year), it needs to service 1.5 million residents, with 750,000 more people on the way in the next 30 years. Then there’s an $18.5 billion infrastructure programme over the next 20 years that in too many instances is not funded properly, our housing supply isn’t where it needs to be and traffic congestion has been getting worse. We have a lot of work to get through and we can’t afford to get these crucial services wrong. Most recently the $1.2 billion IT blowout demonstrated a complete failure not just by Council staff accountable but the governors of Auckland. We face significant challenges and I will be channeling my strong business and governance expertise to address the key priorities immediately.

In saying that, Auckland does need fresh thinking to grow a vibrant, world leading city. Our waterfront has great potential that’s why I agree it needs serious attention. My view is that rather than starting with “what can we build here”, (which is an exciting conversation to have), we have to start by looking at what we’ve already got. We have a Port with rapidly growing activities constrained by limited space, and part of this prime land is still a car park. The Port is the biggest occupier of our waterfront. With its projected growth over the next 20-30 years we must consider relocating it as it simply cannot go out into the harbour. We should ultimately return the waterfront to the people of Auckland. This is the long-term strategic leadership that our city needs.

Moving a port is a big task, it demands substantive scoping and due diligence. Other cities around the world, such as Sydney and Seattle, have undertaken port relocations to accommodate growth. It also puts us in a better position to then have that exciting and robust conversation about what the waterfront with more available land could be used for. I’m open-minded about a stadium being part of that conversation amongst the many other things that could be included in our vibrant waterfront development. However, all sporting codes would need to be involved in the discussion and the proposal would have to bear no extra costs to ratepayers. 

As Mayor I will ensure that Auckland reaches its potential by providing strong leadership, fresh thinking and delivering real results.

Vic Crone is a candidate for Mayor of Auckland. Vic has over 20 years’ business experience at the forefront of the IT and communications sectors with Chorus, Telecom (now Spark), and most recently as Managing Director of Xero NZ.

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