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Residents split over Eden Park upgrade
Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Residents supporting a comprehensive upgrade of Auckland's Eden Park today said they will be devastated if the plans are scaled down.

But a rival group backs a cheaper proposal reported to be under consideration by the Government to increase capacity to 60,000 for the 2011 rugby World Cup.

TV3 News reported last night that the Government was looking at a less expensive option than the $385 million redevelopment now on the table.

It would include installing 13,000 temporary seats and was priced at $50 million to $100 million.

Eden Park Residents Association chairman Jose Fowler said the report, if correct, would mean "a loss-loss situation" for locals.

"We would be devastated if the redevelopment was downgraded," he said.

"For us, it isn't about the stadium per se. There's the whole knock-on effect for the community. The No 2 pitch is going to be an open park, there's a community hall to be built and the transport terminal is something that is really needed."

Mr Fowler said a partial upgrade would mean residents enduring the inconvenience of construction without the long-term benefits.

"I don't mind sitting in my house and listening to rock breakers as along as I know that we, the community, are going to get something better out of it," he said.

"But if it's just a lot of noise to put up temporary stands and a lot of noise for them to come down, we are in a loss-loss situation."

However, Eden Park Neighbours Association president Mark Donnelly said the use of temporary seating was a valid option for an event that would last only a few weeks.

"Some of the redevelopment proposals have benefits in them," he said.

"But on balance, people are very concerned about the height and size of the structures, ongoing use and just the economic viability going forward."

Mr Donnelly said there had been optimistic forecasts about stadium use and income after the World Cup, "but if it doesn't happen, it impacts on the community".

New Zealand's successful bid to host the World Cup promised a 60,000-seater venue for the opening match and the final.

Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard would not confirm the TV3 report, saying he expected to make an announcement at the end of the month.

Eden Park Trust Board chief executive John Alexander said he wasn't prepared to comment on speculation.

He said the board was continuing to work with the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) on the Government's review process.

"We are not aware of any decision and are not prepared to speculate on any outcome at this stage," he said.

"We have been advised by the MED that the trust board will be consulted on any preferred design for Eden Park before definitive decisions are made."

The board was last month granted resource consent, but the project is awaiting a government decision on funding.

The board has $160 million committed, leaving a balance of $225 million for its preferred choice.

Mr Mallard previously backed a new $500 million-plus waterfront stadium, but the Cabinet abandoned that scheme after public opposition.