The Wellington region looks set to get a new indoor arena that could seat up to 12,000 people.
The Wellington Regional Strategy Committee, which includes the region’s mayors, agreed on Tuesday to advance plans to build the arena.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, who chairs the committee, said the plans were for an 8000 to 12,000 seated arena, but it would more likely be about 10,000 and would be modelled on the Spark Arena (previously Vector) in Auckland.
Wellington City Council has been working on the idea for the past 18 months and has budgeted $60 million in its Long-Term Plan for the project, but other councils in the region may be asked to pay a levy, as they continue to do for the Westpac Stadium.
$60 million? Sure it would be nice to have a bigger indoor venue, but I can think of a lot of other things you could spend $60 million on – or not spend it and keep rates down.
Possible sites for the new arena could be near Westpac Stadium, the railway station, the waterfront, or the central city entertainment precinct, Lester said.
The waterfront would be my pick.
Other sites around the region would also be considered, and it would replace 5600-capacity TSB Arena.
Wellington concert promoter Phil Sprey, who has long been advocating for a covered venue bigger than the TSB Arena but smaller than Westpac Stadium, said the announcement was good news.
Big international acts were increasingly playing multiple nights in smaller arenas, rather than braving unpredictable weather and the logistical challenges of filling a stadium, he said.
He urged planners to build a 15,000-seat arena to future-proof the venue. “Then you could see all the major artists that have been playing Vector Arena.”
He believed the best site would have been on the waterfront, where the logs are kept, but given recent earthquake issues, he suggested Petone as an alternative.
It would be accessible to people north of Wellington, and new link roads would make it easier for people to travel there.
I really doubt it would get the same patronage in Petone.