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Eden Park beats North Harbour - but not by much
Saturday February 24, 2007
By Mike Houlahan

Eden Park upgraded for a cheap price or a revamped North Harbour stadium are Aucklanders' preferred options for the Rugby World Cup venue.

A Herald DigiPoll asked 265 Aucklanders for their preferred venue for rugby's showpiece event. Eden Park, if given an upgrade of between $50 million and $100 million, received 29.9 per cent support, narrowly ahead of North Harbour Stadium at 27.9 per cent.

Eden Park upgraded for $300 million was supported by 19.3 per cent and Carlaw Park received 8.7 per cent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 6 per cent. The question was set before this week's announcement by Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard that the Government would support a $170 million to $190 million Eden Park redesign that would see a new permanent South Stand built and extra, but temporary, seating.

Earlier this week, an nzherald.co.nz poll of 1420 people showed opinion evenly split on the cost of renovating Eden Park: 33 per cent said the upgrade would be too expensive, 31 per cent that the cost was about right, and 36 per cent that it was too cheap.

Last November, when building a waterfront stadium was still a possibility, a Herald poll saw Eden Park garner 50 per cent support and the waterfront 36 per cent.

With the poll widened to encompass other venues, Eden Park was the favoured site for 31.1 per cent, with North Harbour Stadium second on 23.1 per cent.

North Harbour Stadium chief executive Brendon O'Connor said previous polls had always shown strong support for North Harbour, so he was not surprised by the ground's strong showing in the Herald DigiPoll. "We have always assessed strong public support because of the logic and rationality of taking a long-term view and developing a regional or national stadium on this site."

Although Monday's announcement put Eden Park well in advance of North Harbour as the Cup venue, Mr O'Connor said he wanted to make it clear that North Harbour was the designated back-up if problems beset the Eden Park proposal.