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Eden Park gets the nod
By Nic Daley
Monday, 27 November 2006

KICK off at the Garden of Eden, 2011

That’ll be the catch-cry for punters come Rugby World Cup time, as the government officially dropped its waterfront stadium concept today from its first-choice picks.

The cabinet has decided to support the redevelopment of Eden Park, with Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard citing inconsistent stadium preferences nominated by the Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City Council last week.

“Cabinet today considered two options given this lack of unanimity – either to convene a group of all key parties to see whether issues with the waterfront could be overcome, or to support a redevelopment of Eden Park.”

And now the government-imposed deadline has passed, there’s no sign central and local government officials will continue their contentious rotation policy, which saw a number of potential stadiums in the mix.

ARC chairman Mike Lee welcomes the decision. “It means we have some certainty around the premier venue for the 2011 tournament and all parties can work together to ensure Rugby World Cup 2011 is a great success.”

Mr Lee says the ARC will work constructively with the government and other parties involved to address any outstanding issues in the Eden Park proposal.

Like the late-1990s Andrew Mehrtens v Carlos Spencer battle for the All Blacks No 10 jersey, the two stadium options polarised the country. In the end, the selectors backed tried and trusted Eden Park over the mercurial and conceptual waterfront stadium.

Mr Lee says the stadium debate captured the public imagination.

“Everybody has been talking about where the stadium should be and it’s clear to us that, despite some public sympathy for the waterfront concept, the majority of Aucklanders favour Eden Park as the Rugby World Cup venue,” says Mr Lee.

“The widespread debate shows that Aucklanders do care and are seriously interested in the future of the Auckland region.”

The ARC voted unanimously on Friday in favour of redeveloping Eden Park, ahead of the waterfront over-the-water proposal being promoted by the government.

“We gave the government a clear, decisive preference and we’re pleased that they have listened to the ARC’s decision.” North Harbour Stadium is warming the bench, nominated by the government as the reserve choice.