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Revamped Eden Park to have 'regional, national benefits'
7:13PM Monday December 17, 2007

A $240.5 million revamp of Auckland's Eden Park will have regional and national benefits, and the design will make it a "better neighbour", Eden Park Redevelopment Board chairman John Waller says.

The revamp, for hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC), will increase seating from 47,500 to 60,000 and funding will come from the Government ($190 million), the New Zealand Rugby Union ($10 million) and the Eden Park Trust Board (at least $12 million).

Auckland Regional Council and Auckland City Council were yet to commit but Mr Waller said he was confident the 10 per cent shortfall would be forthcoming.

"Those who have yet to make a contribution can now focus on the merits of the new design both for RWC 2011 and the long term," he said.

"The redevelopment of Eden Park has national and regional benefits, and we hope that the final mix of contributions will reflect this. We will welcome others' support in bringing the finance issues to a successful conclusion."

Cabinet today signed off on the new design and re-confirmed the Government will underwrite the $190 million it approved last May.

The final design was costing "significantly less" than the $385m one for which planning consents were obtained earlier this year by the Eden Park Trust Board, Mr Waller said.

"Design issues are finalised, our construction programme remains on schedule, and we can now get on with the RWC 2011 preparations."

Key features of the revamp include:

* A new two-tier East Stand to replace the existing terraces, which have only eight years of life left;

* a new single bowl of open seating to replace the ageing Panasonic Stand;

* enhanced landscaping around the park's perimeter;

* improved sound proofing, including a new noise barrier;

* capacity of 60,000 seats for the RWC and 50,000 seats post-RWC;

* a new design motif for the South Stand incorporating the silver fern;

* a public concourse to link the ASB, East and South stands;

* a public plaza and concourse providing a link between Kingsland Station, the proposed coach/bus terminal, and the ASB, West and South stands.

The final design struck the best balance between competing needs of the park and the neighbourhood, and ensured Auckland had a quality regional facility for hosting sporting and cultural events post-2011.

The design ensured the park would be a "better neighbour" for local residents by reducing noise spill, ensuring crowds circulated within the park and not via neighbouring streets and by providing better transport links.

"We have been working for more than six months to finalise details. It's a result that Aucklanders will be pleased with - and the country can be proud of," Mr Waller said.

RWC Minister Clayton Cosgrove said the park would deliver a world-class finals venue for the final of the 2011 tournament, and be of ongoing value to Auckland and New Zealand.

"This design will result in a RWC finals stadium that all New Zealanders can be proud of," he said.

Work on the revamp would start next August with the demolition of the South Stand, and construction would be completed by December 2010.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Government was underwriting the project up to $190m and was still in discussion about "some of the small residual that has to be found" although that was not so significant as to avoid going ahead.

Discussions would continue with other possible funders "but we're sufficiently certain to be able to now say get on and do it".

The redevelopment had to go ahead as agreed with the Eden Park governing authority, Miss Clark said.

"It's very important, for the reputation of New Zealand, that we can on with it and move towards a successful Rugby World Cup 2007," Miss Clark said.

This design offers the smoothest way forward in a certain location. We can pretty much see the way through to the financing of the whole redevelopment and it's important now that this goes ahead on schedule," she said.

Those leading the construction had told the Government they must place orders before Christmas to guarantee the redevelopment was finished on time.

- NZPA