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Proposals announced for a new waterfront stadium in central Auckland for the Vodafone Warriors

Proposals for a new sports stadium on the waterfront in downtown Auckland, New Zealand, appear to be back on the agenda a decade after they were scrapped.

Vodafone New Zealand Warriors’ Chairman, Bill Wavish, reportedly believes his club can secure A$100m in funding towards a new stadium, and hopes that the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council would fund the rest of the multi-million dollar project.

While the Vodafone Warriors recently agreed a deal that will keep them playing their ‘home’ NRL games at the ageing Mount Smart Stadium until 2028, beyond that date the club’s Managing Director, Jim Doyle, wants a “new multi-purpose stadium in the heart of the city”.

Doyle has advised the media that:

It could be shared between the Warriors, the Blues, soccer. So we could have games there on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and each team would pick up a lot more fans because it would be easier to get to.

For me, it’s the only logical outcome for the city and possibly the country. I think it will happen, it’s just a case of when.

The idea for a waterfront national stadium was first advanced in 2006, with then Rugby World Cup Minister, Trevor Mallard, offering A$500m for the plan.

Proposed as the venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup final and other major games, the proposal was backed by Auckland City Council, but opposed by the Auckland Regional Council and the Eden Park rugby establishment; as plans for a new stadium could have seen the downgrading and possible end of Eden Park and Mt Smart Stadium.

Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) Chief Executive, Chris Brooks, who has been given responsibility of reviving Auckland’s stadiums plans, says the waterfront stadium proposal needs to be investigated.

RFA’s most recent stadium plan (compiled in 2014), proposed that the Warriors move to North Harbour Stadium, the speedway go to Mt Smart and cricket to relocate to Western Springs.With the Vodafone Warriors remaining at Mt Smart Stadium, RFA has announced that the speedway will remain at Western Springs until early 2019.

Warriors sponsor, Vodafone, is dialling up public support for the proposed new waterfront stadium, stepping forward and throwing its backing behind the idea.

Chief Executive, Russell Stanners, said Vodafone had a long and rich history with New Zealand sport, and would seriously consider sponsoring a new Auckland downtown stadium if it went ahead.

Stanners said:

We think a new stadium is an absolutely fantastic idea, and we would love to this become a reality for Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.

Kiwis love sport and Vodafone shares that same passion.

Vodafone has been the principal naming rights sponsor of the Vodafone Warriors since 1999 – the longest professional naming rights sports team sponsor in New Zealand history. Vodafone also supports a wide range of other sports – netball, soccer, Team Vodafone Sailing and Emirates Team New Zealand. Vodafone currently partners with the Chiefs, the Hurricanes, the Highlanders and the Crusaders.

Stanners added:

We’ve already been in talks with other individuals and organisations who are backing this stadium proposal, pledging our full support.

We believe this project would enhance the vibrancy of central Auckland and New Zealand sport. We have a unique opportunity before us.

Vodafone is well-positioned to enrich stadium experiences for kiwis across its leading mobile network, allowing customers to instantly share images of live games across social networks, and stay in touch with friends and family.

Stanners said constructing a new multi-code, multi-purpose venue on the Auckland waterfront would present New Zealand with a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a “stadium of the future”, one of the most technologically-advanced in the world. There’s the potential for everything in the stadium to be enabled by the smartphone, fully wireless enabled, and voice and video aware.

Vodafone Warriors Managing Director, Jim Doyle, said the club is fully aligned with Vodafone in its support of a central city stadium. He said:

We’re absolutely right behind Vodafone on this. Having a stadium in downtown Auckland is the only logical outcome for the city and possibly the country.

A city like Auckland deserves a downtown stadium. All public transport leads there, there are restaurants, bars and cafes and it would add to vibrancy of the city.

A central city stadium could be shared between the Vodafone Warriors, the Blues and soccer. So we could have games there on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and each team would pick up a lot more fans because it would be easier to get to.

 

Image: Vodafone has confirmed it is backing the concept for a new downtown stadium in Auckland. Courtesy: www.photosport.nz

Our Q1 edition includes a Regional Market Report highlighting sports venue projects across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, including PNG’s new National Football Stadium.