Lee: Eden Park Right Place


ARC Chair Mike Lee tonight defended his council’s insistence that the RWC matches should be held at Eden Park, not at a waterfront stadium, as proposed by the former government’s sports minister Trevor Mallard in 2006.

Speaking at a function at Eden Park, following the opening of the revamped Kingsland railway train station, Mr Lee said there were three reasons why the ARC voted unanimously on Eden Park:

  • “A stadium on the waterfront, providing major technical difficulties and huge costs (anything from half billion to billion dollars) in actually building it could be overcome, while in theory quite an exciting notion, because of its size and bulk would certainly dominate the waterfront environment and badly compromise - in fact ruin city to sea viewscapes – which is incidentally why most Aucklanders opposed it.
  • “A stadium on Bledisloe Wharf would also have wrecked the Bledisloe Container Terminal, the second busiest container terminal in the country – and stripped a huge amount of value away from the country’s biggest port - Ports of Auckland. Let us not forget to even consider the major upgrade of our rapid transit system we have embarked upon over the last several years would have been impossible without the income stream of the fully publicly owned Ports of Auckland. As I said at the time there are lots of places where rugby stadia can be located – but very few places where one can locate a port.
  • “Finally the ARC recognised the great tradition of Eden Park and what it means for Auckland and for New Zealand sport - that indeed Eden Parks is one of the great brand names of World Rugby”.

Eden Park's new stand for the Rugby World Cup

He said the ARC’s priority for its RWC funding was upgrading the rail services, stations, and rolling stock for Eden Park.

“But, that being said we recognized given the profound implications of our decision to retain Eden Park that we should make a contribution – our $10m is probably less than some would have liked and clearly a lot more than other ratepayers wanted. However given the huge amount of money the government has put in to Eden Park – we felt the Auckland region was honour-bound to back our commitment to Eden Park with a significant financial contribution.

“It is absolutely important for Auckland and New Zealand that the Rugby World Cup is a success and that we all unite together and throw our weight behind it.

Mr Lee presented the money to the Eden Park Redevelopment Board on behalf of the ARC and the people of the Auckland region.

He said RWC success equated to legacy:

  • the legacy of the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011
  • the legacy of Auckland being left with better civic infrastructure
  • a better transport system
  • a bigger and more lucrative tourist industry
  • a better waterfront- one which, amongst other facilities, will have 3 ha of open space for the people of Auckland and our visitors - and a permanent cruise ship terminal.

He added that while Auckland Mayor John Banks (who was present at the function)  and he had political differences, and engage in a certain amount of what he called creative tension from time to time, their overall strategic view of the waterfront can be very much aligned.

Mr Lee took the opportunity to thank to KiwiRail for its completion last month of the double tracking of the western line.

“We can sometimes be a little negative in Auckland and we don’t always remember to celebrate our achievements – and that needs to change.”

Referring to the forthcoming local government change in Auckland he said :

“Whatever happens in the future I think its absolutely important in Auckland that we keep our eyes on the prize,  transcend political divisions and personalities and work together for what is good for Auckland and for what will make this great city even greater.”

See also: Photos of All Blacks at the Kingsland opening

Photos of the revamped station




  1. ingolfson says:

    Odd thought - Lee is standing for Council, and while not a shoo-in (nobody is, the set-up is too new, and the politics too volatile), he is likely to win his seat. But Banks isn’t running for Council, only mayor, right? Wonder what these folks will do if they (or one of them) loses.

    In fact, it will be interesting times. There will be so few Councillors left that there’s a good chance of getting a good handle on almost all of them (unless the elected ones are so bland nobody cares).

  2. Mark Donnelly says:

    I don’t know why Lee wants to revisit this now…..but it is a great example of short sighted thinking, and also a lesson for governments in how not to do things.

    The government came with a silly plan - but others in auckland could see basic benefiits of a CBD stadium. Bledisloe south was largely a spare parts car park, and also Quay St needs to be addressed at some stage ie narrowing/possibly removing cars etc. If the government had given Auckland more than 2 weeks, a better site/design could have come through. It was the ARC lack of vision which killed it.

    So what do we have now? (apart from PR hype about how well they’re all doing!) - a stadium that has a maximum train capacity of 15,000 - which is only achieved by taking every train off its normal route, and taking over the whole western line - so obviously this can not work for mon-fri games.

    The CBD location offered 60,000 workers almost on the door step, 50,000 students, 20,000 residents and numerous tourists all able to access a stadium very easily. it also offered a chance to back fill all the empty peak trains traveling to Britomart to transport workers home. No closing of lines/disruption of normal train services…..

    One of the reason Eden Park is failing to attract the crowds is its location. While train services have improved,they still only get 6-8000 by train or bus out of 35-45000. And Friday games involve an extra hour of peak travel times delays (including buses). While bus lanes need to be extended to 7.30pm for Friday games, there are still major issues getting away after 9.30-10.

    A stadium is like any other business - it must be attractive to attend - and this includes the door to door service.
    While it’s great to see trains being utilised (something I’ve advocated for many years), they are still limited in their capacity. Mind you - on the plus side - with reduced crowds the actual % of rail will be pretty high - and in fact rail will still be easiest way to get to the ground. Although I’ve never understood why the Newmarket connection wasn’t improved ie so that trains could easily stop at newmarket. For RWC almost all trains will by-pass Newmarket and head to Britomart.

  3. Matt L says:

    I and every Aucklander I ever speak to about it thinks it should have been in town somewhere. While I had no problem with it being on the wharf I do understand the concerns and like Mark I think we could have found a suitable venue for it. Hundreds of millions could also have been recovered by developing and selling off the land that Eden Park occupies with perhaps just one part left for test cricket. We are now left with a legacy that we just won’t be able to afford to move to a better location.

    “Party Central” would be even better as those at the games could just flow out, walk along Quay St and join in the fun with those people that didn’t have tickets.

    Also traveling past the stadium every day, the plastic coating just looks tacky.

  4. Carl says:

    If they had of built this, Eden park would never have been pulled down, why would they do that?

    esp. after they built the ASB stand just a few years before all that silly debate came up.

    Maybe if that stand had never have been built, then yeah push it down to the waterfront.

    but again its another win, because not everything needs to be in the “big city” so to speak.

  5. Joshua says:

    Agreed - this was one of Lee’s worse actions, we will remain having a stadium in the middle of a residential suburb, with restrictions because of the residents who moved in, even though the stadium was there first.

    In the city it would be more accessible by PT, people living in the city and the city workers. No need to try and get every1 into town cause they are already there, and attendance would be better for normal games as it’s more accessible. In the end a poor decision which sums up most of Auckland Decision making, cant decide so let’s not improve anything. Typical Auckland.

  6. Nick R says:

    The Bledisloe terminal site would have been ideal, all the benefits of being downtown with no severance of the city from the sea (it isn’t waterfront), no bulky dominant structure (no worse that skyscrapers and container ships at least) and no blocking of views (unless you’re concerned about the view of the container terminal).

    I doubt it would have had any permanent effect on the port. The site represents less that 10% of the port, and is only used for staff parking and container storage (not ship berthage). The current exansion plans for the Fergusson terminal would have swallowed up any lost of land, plus I believe an additional reclaimiation was mooted at the time.

    Eden Park could have been redeveloped as a local sports ground and park similar to Victoria Park, while about a third of the site could have been sold for a new town centre development.

  7. Kurt says:

    I agree with a lot of things Mike Lee says and has done but Eden Park still is and always will be in the wrong place, far too difficult to access for big events.

    For Auckland this truly was an opportunity lost.

    Ironically for the people in the Stalinist design apartment blocks on Beach Road who complained that their views of Jap imports on the wharves would be lost should a stadium be constructed, they can now rest easy, a car park is being built on Quay Street to completely block out the light.

  8. Matt L says:

    Kurt - funny enough my opinion is those apartments are exactly where the stadium should have gone. Knock them down and build the stadium on that site. It could have then blocked Quay St so that west of the Britomart Pl could have been turned into a nice pedestrian area and it wouldn’t have needed much if any port land

  9. Ian says:

    A waterfront stadium would have been a much reviled eyesore blocking views of the harbour. Carlaw Park was the ideal place, close to the city and PT.

  10. rtc says:

    @Kurt - the carpark is being built high enough to block the views from the carparks in the Scene but not any higher.

    @Matt - agreeds demolishing the Scenes and building the stadium there would have my vote :-)

  11. Mark Donnelly says:

    Nick R - spot on.

    The ports had a silly artificial separation of the two operations - back then Fergusson apparently had only 40% utilisation. Now they’ve sensibly combined both into one operation.

    It was interesting at the time that a few days after govt plan was announced, they’d stcked a few more containers down there!

    The thing I liked was the catalyst it would have been to pedestrianise Quay St (maybe leave a small service/access lane). All trucks should be banned from a right turn out of the port anyway :)

    Kurt - yes there was a wonderful irony with Scene apartment people complaining about views /urban design….

  12. Ian M says:

    I have said it many times before. The ideal places for the stadium would have been either at the rear of tank farm (and would have made a great centre piece, and stimulus for development)-or Albany, which has no land problems and is still close to town with the busway/future railway. The latter location however suffered from the fact North Harbour rugby would then have a better stadium than Auckland (a political nightmare it seems).

    Eden park could have been returned to a great cricket ground by demolishing the old stands and just keeping the ASB stand-the rest could have been made into grass embankments like in South africa or Hamilton.

    The saddest thing of all is that noone had the foresight to mention that a new national stadium could have been promoted as being capable of having an athletics track, which would have meant we would have a Commonwealth or World Athletics champ suitable stadium too…..

  13. Simon says:

    @Ian I agree. The Carlaw park plan was ideal in that unlike either Eden Park and the Waterfront plans it actually had the full support of nearby residents, the Parnell Biz assoc., and the trustees of the Domain who even advised they were happy to give up a little of the Domain land at the back of the Domain to make a large enough area to site the stadium. Why this option wasn`t pursued is beyond me. The decision to go with Eden Park still ranks as the worst decision this city and it`s people have made. And we can`t blame even just the ARC as obviously the utter lack of support of Aucklanders as shown by the Herald campaign showed Aucklanders lacked any sense of foresight with regards to the stadium.

    The worst thing about the Eden Park upgrade is the fact that the problem of having a sub-standard venue for either rugby or cricket hasn`t been fixed. Still the stands are too far away compared with first class rugby/football grounds - apoint brought home to me after watching the ABs v Italy at the wonderful San Siro Football Stadium and the cricket pitch is still far too small by international standards - a couple of the boundaries in particular are ridiculously short. The least they could have done if they were going to keep Eden Park is make it a proper football stadium and developed a proper cricket venue somewhere else in Auckland. Personally, I wished they`d built a national stadium not just for rugby but for a wide range of events and had all rugby, league, football internationals there and then got rid of Eden Park and helped pay for the new stadium by subdividing Eden Park and Mt. Smart etc. Otherwise they could have built a smaller stadium at one of those places for cricket alone. Instead we`re left with a sub-standard stadium that can`t even be the best it can for any one kind of sport. Pathetic! I don`t even enjoy watching rugby at Westpac Stadium in Wellington again because you`re so far from the action. Why can`t we learn from our mistakes?!! Again it should have been a purely football code stadium.

    And as Ian says no specialist stadium to host a CWG, an IAAF World Athletics Champs, co-host FIFA WC games with Australia.

  14. Joshua says:

    Carlaw park vs Waterfront would have been the ideal debate solution at the time, eden park option should of been tossed. But I still would go with Waterfront, in terms of access and identity. In the end we are a sporting nation, and a national multi-sport arena that is at the center of our biggest city is a opportunity we have truly missed. North-Harbour is still to far from the bulk of the population, so was equal to redeveloping eden park in my opinion. The main benefit of Waterfront over Carlaw Park to me was it would be easily used even when not hosting a major event. It was to open up the Waterfront in the area and also act as a cruise ship terminal, have shopping and cafe area’s on the lower part of the stadium, ensuring it would have a return on the investment, even without hosting the major sporting events it would be capable of.

    Unfortunately the people in charge don’t have the ability to see what the end result would achieve, and they go for the easier option because of a few people without vision. Sorry Auckland we miss out again.

  15. Nick R says:

    In my opinion the ideal format for the stadium would have been very similar to Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium (aka Ethihad Stadium).

    It has a convertible seating system that allows it to have two arrangements. The rectangular arrangement is for rugby, league and soccer and it has a capacity crowd of almost 60,000 with seats right up to the field. However, the first tier of seats can be retracted into a oval field mode for cricket and aussie rules (and presumably and athletics track if one was installed). This reduces the seating capacity somewhat to increase the playing area.

    This would be ideal for Auckland, a national stadium with heaps of seating for rugby, concerts and opening ceremonies, and a slightly reduced capacity for cricket/athletics. Both arrangements have people seated right up to the edge of the field.

    Other features include a retractable roof, carparking in a huge basement level under the pitch, and a direct connection to the adjacent central railway interchange (plus trams on two sides)

  16. max says:

    “carparking in a huge basement level under the pitch”

    Nope. No car parking please. We have enough of that.

  17. Simon says:

    Well Nick and everyone else, whatever our dreams, we`re now lumped with this useless peice of crap called Eden Park for how many years to come? This city had its chance and we blew it. I can`t see us getting the same chance for at least another 30years or so. What a depressing thought! The powers that be will want to make use of the how many millions that were wasted to “upgrade” Eden Park and get their “monies worth” before even remotely looking at building something new.

  18. ingolfson says:

    Why is Eden Park suddenly a piece of crap? I supported the Waterfront Stadium, have very little interest in rugby myself - but I am still sure that Eden Park will be a very valuable asset.

    Why does Auckland have to talk everything down? Yes, often we have done things that weren’t ideal, often we do things that are compromises. That’s called reality.

  19. Simon says:


    Eden Park isn`t suddenly a piece of crap. Obviously you don`t have an interest in rugby or cricket or you`d know that it`s been a piece of crap for a long time! A real dogs breakfast.

    If you`d read my and others above posts properly you`d know why it`s NOT a valuable asset. Poor location in a residential area meaning retricted use (if you want an asset to be valuable you want to get as much use out of it as possible right?) and not optimised for either of the two sports that are played there.

    When one is spending millions upon millions on stadiums, we have every right to expect we get something to be proud of and that squarely meets expectations. There are many overseas stadiums (one of which I mentioned in an earlier post) that show that stadiums can be done properly without compromise. If that`s the reality there, there is no reason for it not to be the reality here. The continuing saga in Auckland where we do compromise on doing things properly, two tracks only into our main central station etc etc, is the very valid reason why people do talk Auckland things down. When the people planning projects in Auckland do realise it`s important to get it right one of these days then they will get the pat on the back they deserve!


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