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Eden Park likely to get nod as vote splits
25 November 2006

Eden Park is leading the field for the Rugby World Cup after Auckland's local body politicians came to a split decision on the waterfront national stadium.

Auckland Regional Council, owner of the port facilities, rejected the plan yesterday. On Thursday, Auckland City Council backed the stadium 12-8 after a five-hour session.

Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard said he would refer the councils' decisions to Monday's Cabinet. It is understood the Government is unlikely to push the waterfront option any more.

Mr Mallard had given Auckland two weeks to decide on the offer, setting a deadline of midday yesterday.

At 12.30pm the regional council unanimously rejected the plan for a waterfront stadium, preferring the original plan to upgrade Eden Park.

The city council had only limited say over what happened to the stadium proposal because it involved harbour land under the authority of the regional council.

A 31-page regional council report cast doubt on many of the figures used to cost the waterfront option, including a compensation figure for Ports of Auckland Ltd, owned by council entity Auckland Regional Holdings.

When Mr Mallard put the proposal a fortnight ago the total construction was put at $500 million while an Eden Park upgrade was put at $150 million to $320 million.

The regional council report suggested the waterfront stadium could go as high as $969 million while Eden Park could climb to $578 million. It said both options carried risk but Eden Park was less expensive and risky.

The report also spelt out how the stadium would damage the port. Auckland Regional Holdings said it had not received any acceptable proposals to provide substitute wharf and facilities.

The decision this week by Maersk Shipping Line to use Auckland as its main hub had made the situation much more complex, it said.

The regional council invited the public to make three-minute submissions and 17 people did so. None backed the stadium.

Council chairman Mike Lee said a clear majority of Aucklanders opposed the waterfront stadium. They wanted access to the harbour and were worried about the costs.