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Eden Park game plan needed to reach goal
Thursday October 25, 2007
By Bernard Orsman

Upgrading Eden Park is progressing with all the momentum of a disorganised rolling maul. The goal line is in sight but there is no visible game plan.

Two years since Eden Park was pencilled in as the premier venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the mish-mash of stands is still that.

What's more, the public do not know who is going to pick up the $190 million bill to meet the International Rugby Board's requirement of a 60,000-seat stadium for the final on October 23 in four years' time.

Everyone involved in the cup planning, from Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard to Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Sneddon and Eden Park redevelopment board chief executive Adam Feeley, say the Eden Park upgrade is on track.

Mr Snedden says the design has been approved by all the relevant parties and more than complies with the host agreement obligations. Work is under way to develop construction plans and appoint a contractor.

Mr Snedden said because the Government had promised to underwrite the $190 million bill, "funding of the redevelopment costs is not an issue".

"That underwrite will be sufficient to enable the project to proceed," he said.

In other words, the project is not dependent on funding from local councils and the Auckland Regional Council. New Auckland City Mayor John Banks has promised to pull a $30 million ratepayers' contribution towards the upgrade but is comfortable with $21 million to improve infrastructure in the precincts of Eden Park. New North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has also ruled out a contribution and the Auckland Regional Council's focus is on providing electric trains by 2011.

The Rugby Union has committed $10 million to the upgrade and the Eden Park Trust Board has talked of putting in $60 million.

Mr Feeley says preliminary designs for Eden Park are only weeks away. The Herald understands the cost of the upgrade has risen and a "value management" workshop will require a number of trade-offs.

What is known is that the upgrade involves a new south stand and temporary seating to increase the current capacity of 46,000 seats to 60,000.

Mr Mallard and the trust board in May announced plans for a new permanent south stand with 22,200 seats. The stand will have 52 corporate boxes and new media and player facilities.

One idea being considered is a deeper roof for the south stand to provide an extra 2000 covered seats.

The May plan calls for the Panasonic and eastern terraces to be overlaid with 17,400 temporary seats and another 2500 temporary seats above the existing 4300 seats on the west stand.

With transport planners expecting 15,000 people to arrive at the ground by train and 18,000 by buses and coaches, plans are under way for upgrading Kingsland railway station and building a bus transport hub, off Sandringham Rd, south of the No 2 ground.

Eden Park Neighbours' Association president Mark Donnelly said an independent report by an engineering firm, Connell Wagner, showed 45 properties would be affected by the latest plan. The report recommends financial contributions of between $1500 and $5000 for mitigation costs.

The council is giving little away about how it will spend $21 million on improvements around the park. It is waiting for the preliminary design before deciding what to commit to.

These four rugby grounds host test rugby. How will they be placed come 2011?

Waikato Stadium
Hamilton is ready and waiting for rugby World Cup 2011.

A substantial upgrade of the old Rugby Park began in 2000, and saw the hallowed ground reborn in 2002 as Waikato Stadium. A new grandstand and other redevelopment means Hamilton now has a modern, international-standard rugby ground which holds 25,800 people, with the flexibility to push that to 30,000 for test matches.

There are no plans to expand the capacity of the ground for the Rugby World Cup, but stadium management and Hamilton City Council are discussing possible upgrades in and around the stadium.

AMI Stadium
The ground traditionalists still call Lancaster Park underwent a major revamp some years ago, which saw the north, south and west sides of the ground transformed.

The Paul Kelly Stand, named after a car firm, offers one of the best rugby-watching vantage points in the country from the western side of the ground. Time has been called on the three stands on the eastern side of the ground, which are about to be replaced with a slightly smaller version of the Paul Kelly stand - a project which would expand the ground's capacity by 5000, to 41,000.

AMI Stadium has also offered itself as a fall-back proposition if the redevelopment of Eden Park does not go ahead.

The $60 million project is being underwritten by Christchurch City Council and is being paid for out of debt funding, to be met from stadium revenues over the next 20 years. Demolition of the east stands begins on November 11, with construction scheduled to begin on July 11. All going according to plan, the new stand will be open in time for the 2011 Super 14.

Westpac Stadium
Wellington also boasts a relatively new ground, one which has a proven track record of hosting international sporting events.

Westpac Stadium - popularly known as the Cake Tin - has a standard capacity of 34,500, although this can be increased to 39,000 if temporary seating is added.

Opened in 2000, chief executive David Gray says the stadium needs little work to get it ready for Rugby World Cup 2011.

The stadium's capital expenditure programme will be ramped up slightly, with $8 million to be spent on installing a second replay screen, upgrading food and beverage areas, putting in a second lift and upgrading media facilities.

The Carisbrook Stadium Trust is preparing a multimillion-dollar transformation of the ground into a community educational and sporting facility. For $188 million, a joint venture between the Stadium Trust and the University of Otago will create a roofed, 30,000 capacity stadium.

However, several hurdles have to cleared before Carisbrook can be confirmed as a Rugby World Cup venue. Land for the project needs to be bought, and Dunedin City Council will need to approve a district plan change to accommodate the revamp.

The council will also need to approve its $79.9 million contribution to the project, and funding is also being sought from the Otago Regional Council ($37.5 million) and gaming trusts ($10 million). The trust hopes to raise another $45 million from the private and corporate sector, and the university is also contributing to shared costs.