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Test of emotional attachment to field of glory and drama
Friday November 3, 2006
By Maggie McNaughton

A new waterfront stadium is likely to mark the end of an era for a ground that has been a New Zealand sporting institution for more than a century.

Eden Park Trust Board chief executive John Alexander admitted in September that a new waterfront stadium would "pretty much spell the end of Eden Park".

The venue has been a sports ground since 1900 and has been home to some of the country's most memorable sporting moments, including the All Blacks' win over France in the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

The trust board is making a last-gasp bid to save the stadium, arguing it is more cost-effective than the waterfront plan.

But times change, says former all Black Andy Haden.

"People in Wellington who bemoaned the loss of Athletic Park don't very often talk about Athletic Park anymore," he said yesterday. "It was very quickly forgotten ... so it might be the same up here."

Eden Park had humble beginnings, but its enduring position in New Zealand sport was assured when it hosted a test in the All Blacks' first series against the Springboks, in 1921.

Matches against New Zealand's traditional rugby rivals have made for some of the stadium's most dramatic sporting occasions, such as the 1956 series-deciding victory and the 1981 "flour-bomb" test.

Eden Park has also hosted top cricket, athletics, hockey, soccer, league and - during World War II - gridiron. In 1950, the British Empire Games were held there.

There has been a procession of royal visitors - the Queen Mother in 1966, the Queen in 1970, and the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1983.

Auckland University emeritus professor of history Russell Stone said Eden Park had an iconic quality about it.

"The year 1921 was the turning point in the story of Eden Park.

"That was the year a Springboks team came to New Zealand and played a test there.

"From that point on it became unthinkable to hold a test elsewhere."

He said the park had a certain mystique that was sometimes forgotten.

The Model: Allianz Arena

* Construction: Less than three years to build

* Cost: 340 million ($647 million) to build, but the city and state also paid about 210 million ($399 million) for area development and infrastructure improvements

* Capacity: 69,901 (66,000 seats and standing room)

* Parking: 9800 places in four four-storey esplanades and 1200 spaces on two levels in the stadium

* Facilities: 28 kiosks, two 1000-seat "fan" restaurants and one 400-seat a la carte restaurant, offices and conference rooms, 54 ticket counters, three childcare centres and shopping facilities

* The three-tier stadium is covered by a thin translucent material, which can be lit in different colours

* The plan for new facilities in Munich was agreed in 1997, but it wasn't until 2001 that it was decided to build a new arena rather than redevelop the existing Olympic Stadium

* It is commonly known as Schlauchboot (inflatable boat)