Friday, 10 November 2006

Auckland's RWC Stadium: Another pitch for Carlaw Park

We will today be told by our betters where they intend to spend our money on a stadium for Rugby World Cup 2011. The signals given by the politicians -- 'signals' being all we peasants deserve at this stage -- suggest that the bedpan on the waterfront is the preferred option. What a nonsense.

Said Geoff Vazey of Ports of Auckland about a waterfront stadium:
  • it simply cannot be constructed in time. He says the risks of pushing it through would be overwhelming.
  • He says before any land could be set aside for a stadium, the port would need an alternative site to conduct its business and it would be 2009 before building could even start.

And Sky Tower architect Gordon Moller said "it would wreck the waterfront." He's right. And Institute of Architects president Ian Athfield says it is is "important it fitted into its environment." That can't be done if it's put between city and harbour.

I still maintain that if you're going to spend this much of our money -- about a thousand dollars per taxpayer -- then we're entitled to have a say in what's going on. I don't think that's unreasonable. And I still maintain that of the options we know about, the Carlaw Park option is by far the best. (Pictured above is just one quickly-sketched example of what might be done there, and how it might appear from Grafton Gulley. )

Richard Simpson provided an excellent argument of the benefits of a Carlaw Park stadium, which I excerpted here a few weeks back. [See his powerpoint presentation here -- go on, take a good look], and it really is worth considering seriously (the site is pictured below, looking from Parnell towards the city).

Done right, a new stadium should enhance the city on a much wider scale than just its immediate location, and a good Carlaw Park stadium offers the following benefits and opportunities which are good for both the stadium, for its surrounds, and for the long-term benefit of the city (you can see at the top of the page and just below an example of how it might be done):

  • there is immediate access to motorways north, south and west, with ample provision for parking under the stadium
  • immediate access also to rail lines north and south, with stations developed as part of the stadium, and an easy walk to a Kingdon St station for trains heading west -- all up easily twice the capacity of Britomart can be added with ease
  • the stadium can be accessed on up to three sides through large concourses, as shown in the plan above
  • few noise or residential problems
  • superb views from the stadium itself out to the city, to Rangitoto and the inner harbour -- a great advertisement to broadcast to the world
  • opportunity to link domain, Stanley St Tennis, new Stanley Circus precinct, and new Vector Arena into one sports and entertainment precinct -- an exciting new part of the city
  • the Carlaw Park site is already in a natural bowl, so there is no blocking of existing views, and it offers the opportunity to produce something spectacular rather than something that needs to be hidden
  • there is an opportunity to enhance and develop all areas around the stadium to the long-term benefit of the city: the university edge; the 'armpit' of Grafton Gully, which with the development of a new 'Stanley Circus Precinct' makes this a destination rather than an eyesore; the 'backside' of Parnell, which by linking up with the domain makes this area the 'front lawn' of Parnell
  • opening up Parnell to the domain by bridging the rail line, and developing domain-edge cafes
  • opens up the university to the domain, and to domain-edge cafes, and brings the lower domain back to the city by making it more easily accessible
  • linking Parnell and the city through the stadium by bridging the rail line, offering a new footbridge and stadium access
  • introduction of a travellator in existing tunnels under Albert Park and Constitution Hill from the end of the footbridge to Victoria St, in the heart of the city, works for both easy game-day stadium access and, with the addition of ample under-stadium parking, allows for easy everyday 'park-and-slide' access to and from the city right at the foot of a convenient motorway connection
  • a city stadium, rather than a suburban one, offers all the pre- and after-match pleasures pleasures we already associate with the already successful Cake Tin in Wellington -- pleasures which would be made even more local by development of a new Stanley Street Circus Precinct, and enhancement of the links to Parnell and city as described.
As I've suggested before, despite the history of Eden Park it's time to recognise that as a severely constricted suburban stadium it no longer fits the needs of a world-class city. Other cities have realised when it's time to let historic stadiums go in order to create something truly worthwhile in a better location. Time to bite the bullet and use its assets as financial fertiliser for something truly world class that enhances the city for the long term. Carlaw Park is the place for that, not the waterfront -- a waterfront stadium is a short-term solution with too many attendant and expensive difficulties.

If that is given as today's answer, which we all now expect to the case, then the wrong questions are being asked. And whichever location is chosen, there is still time, albeit briefly, for a competition to choose a design. This is too important, and too bloody expensive, to rely simply on the closed group of designers presently being talked about behind closed doors.

UPDATE 1: Cullen's comments yesterday about the stadium decision provide some of the only details to date that anyone outside the elect has to go on. Says the Herald, "He dismissed the Carlaw Park option as affecting the Domain..." I think it's clear enough from what I've shown above that any affect on the Domain can only be positive. Maybe that's why it's being dismissed?

UPDATE 2: David Farrar highlights the problems with the decision-making-by-Nomenklatura currently being imposed on us. As he says, given the secrecy and he attendant concerns, "the potential for disaster seems high."
I think about this stadium proposal, developed in secret by politicans, and look at what is missing:

* There is no agreement with the sporting codes on whether they would use the stadium
* There is no agreement with the local authorities
* There is no agreement with the owners of the land
* The exact location seems to change by the day
* There is no owner (such as the Trust in Wgtn) and manager for the stadium!!
* There is no agreement on who will pay
* There are no sponsors
* There are no planning consents

As far as I can tell, and I await the official announcement, every single pillar necessary for a sound decision is absent.
He's right you know. Read on.

UPDATE 3: When Keith Locke and Peter Dunne both talk sense you know something's up.
United Future Peter Dunne said today he was "seriously alarmed at what is looming as a complete shambles over the location and funding of the new national stadium."
No one knew who the experts were the Government kept referring to and many people who should have been consulted had not.
And Keith had this to say about the notion of the waterfront bedpan:
We do have concerns... that it might end up like a blot on the seascape and undermine the good work that's been done along the Auckland waterfront to make it more people-friendly...
And, gosh-darn it, both Dunne and Locke are right -- and given that under normal circumstances both would be needed to vote for the Clark Government's solution, it would suggest McCully has already sold out on behalf of his party.

UPDATE 4: Just so you know, Parnell and Newmarket businesses are right behind Carlaw Park:
Parnell Mainstreet Inc, Newmarket Business Association, Parnell Community Committee and Friends of the Domain believe rebuilding Carlaw Park is a better option. "We've got an existing derelict downtown venue, a landowner that hasn't ruled such a proposition out, and the ability to claim a fraction of the Domain for public use.

"So as far as we're concerned it's a no-brainer," groups spokesman Cameron Brewer said. "It's in a natural amphitheatre, a motorway runs to it and the main trunk line runs past it. "It has all the CBD advantages the Bledisloe option has. In fact it's better because it's even more strategically located and is not to be a 35-metre high giant box on the water's edge."

UPDATE 5: And cost?
Newmarket Business Association spokesman Cameron Brewer said the Government should reconsider redeveloping Auckland's Carlaw Park, which was located at the bottom of the city's domain. A proposal three years ago put a $100 million pricetag on building a 25,000 seat stadium there. A 60,000 seat stadium would cost more, but significantly less than the $700,000 touted for the waterfront.

UPDATE 6: (2:25pm) It's the Bedpan: And now they "want your say." They say. From the Herald report:
  • The Government said today it strongly prefers a new $500 million-plus stadium on the Auckland waterfront for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
    But Sports Minister Trevor Mallard has also called on Aucklanders to give it a clear indication whether the city wants a new stadium or whether Eden Park should be upgraded.
  • The preferred waterfront site is over Marsden Wharf between Captain Cook and Bledisloe wharves
  • The Government has been advised by a technical panel led by Ken Harris the chief executive of Wellington's port [my emphasis]
  • [They want] building work on the stadium underway by December 2007 and are prepared to rewrite various laws to clear the way for the development.
  • ...architects Warren and Mahoney ... envisage a translucent 37 metre-tall structure, similar to the Allianz Stadium bult in Munich, Germany, for this year's soccer World Cup (ie., the bedpan).
  • ...the Eden Park Trust Board has an assessment from its own quantity surveyors that says a new waterfront stadium could cost more than $1 billion...
  • Mr Mallard wants Aucklanders and local bodies to have their say on which [of either Eden park or bedpan] they prefer within two weeks...
UPDATE 7: (3:25pm) Government's full announcement including 'Fact Sheet' is here at Scoop: Waterfront Stadium is Government Preference.

LINKS: Hang on, what about Carlaw Park? - Richard Simpson, Public Address
Carlaw Park: Rugby World Cup Stadium [Powerpoint presentation] - Richard Simpson, Public Address
A site for a Rugby World Cup stadium - Not PC (Oct, 2006)
Mallard ready to go with stadium - NZ Herald

RELATED: Stadium, Politics-NZ, Auckland, Sports


  1. The problem with carlaw Park is that it is too sensible. If there is a more expensive, wasteful and unworkable option, then that should be pursued at all costs.

    - lrfmquxe

  2. P-Style, I think you've hit it on the head.

  3. On the other hand, it would be in my backyard. It seems I might need to become PM in 2008, that appears to be the only way to block a rugby stadion in your backyward.

  4. I think it's a cunning plan. How's this for a conspiracy theory?

    Labour know they'll lose the next election. They know the short-sighted public tend to blame the incumbent if anything happens to make them feel bad, no matter the cause.

    The stadium won't be finished and transport woes will stop anyone getting to the RWC final. The bedpan will be a billion dollar abortion on international TV during an election year.

    National's only hope is to name the stadium after Trevor Mallard.

  5. I am unspeakably furious. I would call the stadium the Arrogant Mallard and Cullen Boondoggle.

    They say it was a finely balanced decision - bull shit. It was a done deal a week ago. Where are the public to make submissions over the next two weeks?

    Stadium Australia was build by private funds, as I understand. I
    t is still listed:

    It's a pity we can't convince the Auckland Rugby League or whoever owns Carlaw Park currently to try floating a development of Carlaw Park. Even if they announced it but didn't float, the announcemnt would be a slap in the face to these condescending wankers who wouldn't give us a tax cut but would spend the money on something we wouldn't.

    Edit your post and submit it to the Herald PC.

  6. Edit your post and submit it to the Herald PC

    Hear Hear!! And the DomPost so you can get everyone down here in Wellington on board, most folks down here don't understabnd why Carlaw park is not a serious contender!

  7. go better pc - you are just the man to start a petition for carlaw park as the place

  8. Or at least start the petition for "Anywhere but Eden park and the waterfront!"

  9. as long as its not lost i dnt care if the rugry world cup aint there as long as it gets done up sooner rather than later.


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