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North Harbour ready to raise roof in bid for World Cup final
Sunday January 21, 2007
By Dylan Cleaver

North Harbour are considering a plan to add a roof to their stadium design - an option that could beef up their chances of hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.

The roof plan could steal the scene in a week that will see two key Eden Park milestones reached in the ongoing search for a stadium to host the final.

Eden Park officials expect the resource consent decision in the middle of this week, while the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) draft report into the stadium issue is due soon after.

The draft report authors have been investigating major issues around the $385 million proposed Eden Park redevelopment, most notably governance, funding and design.

The Herald on Sunday understands there is a 'second' plan for the Albany-based stadium which includes a retractable roof, much like that of Cardiff's state-of-the-art Millennium Stadium. This could lift North Harbour, only a fall-back so far, to more than just an attractive back-up.

North Harbour Stadium chief executive Brendon O'Connor would not go into detail, saying: "We've obviously got the $226m option that we developed in October. But we do have at least one other design option that we are working on."

A roofed stadium would increase the costs of the Albany redevelopment, at least to the level of the Eden Park redevelopment that has had local body councillors coming down with serious cases of political indigestion. But the legacy of an all-weather stadium might be a tonic.

O'Connor said he was due to meet MED again next week.

"It's great that the Government is still assessing us, and is in dialogue with us as the exclusive back-up option. However, there is significant focus and effort going in to trying to solve the inherent problems and disadvantages of Eden Park," O'Connor said.

"It would seem sensible to me to put equal effort into developing opportunities at North Harbour Stadium, we don't have the problems Eden Park has. Then the Government could make an informed decision against rational criteria as to which is the best option for 2011 and beyond."

The direction of Eden Park's progress will be determined by the resource consent decision.

Eden Park legal counsel David Kirkpatrick said Eden Park was in an appropriate stadium location, co-existing with the neighbourhood in much the same way as Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium and Lansdowne Rd in Dublin. He also made the point that temporary seating would be a retrograde step.

"That approach would do nothing to improve the range of matters that this application seeks to improve, including reducing noise and light spill.

"In fact, it could cause significant adverse effects. It would not provide a transport hub, and would leave the Terraces in their present state," Kirkpatrick said.