|Leafy Victoria Park 'ideal' for stadium
|Sunday October 1, 2006
By Gregor Paul
Victoria Park is now a live contender to house a world-class stadium with leading Auckland architect Michael O'Sullivan touting the site as the ideal inner-city venue.
O'Sullivan, a partner in the firm Bull/O'Sullivan Architecture, was commissioned by the Hong Kong Rugby Union to find a venue for their proposed stadium. Having experience in locating sites in densely populated urban areas, O'Sullivan believes Victoria Park is the best place in Auckland to build a legacy stadium for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and beyond.
While previous feasibility studies have supposedly rejected Victoria Park, O'Sullivan says the venue is big enough to house a 75,000-seat stadium within the existing tree line.
Transit is committed to putting the motorway fly-over that bisects Victoria Park underground, and O'Sullivan says suitable parking could also be built underground. The rail terminal at Britomart is capable of delivering thousands of fans to within walking distance of the park.
O'Sullivan's initial proposal would see the new stadium contain an Olympic running track with retractable seats to push spectators to the edge of the pitch when rugby is being played. At 30m-35m high, the stadium would be in context with the surrounding buildings and only marginally higher than the trees already protecting Victoria Park.
A conceptual price tag of $215 million has been attached to the project but O'Sullivan says that figure would rise depending on what final design was chosen.
He said: "If this stadium becomes a national identity, then I believe most people associate New Zealand as being a lush, green place and the site for the new stadium should put that into context."
With no significant structures and the Auckland City Council already owning the land, building the stadium in time for the 2011 World Cup is achievable.
Resource consent is likely to be easier than either the waterfront or Eden Park options with a proposal in place to create a new park on the existing tank farm that could rehouse Grafton Cricket Club and Waiheke Rugby League Club.
Welcome to Stadium Idol, your chance to vote for the stadium you think would best serve Auckland, indeed the country, at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and beyond.
We have four finalists, whittled up from the one option - the redevelopment of Eden Park - we were presented with at the time of the bid. Please write to Herald on Sunday Sports with your choice (and reasons why) and we'll publish the results.
Status: Existing 47,000-capacity stadium.
Location: Kingsland (5kms from CBD).
Result: A legacy stadium with remodelled Eastern and Southern ends. Significant transport and concourse upgrades.
Pros: It already exists; historical attachment; relative distance from CBD; significant headstart on rivals; bars and restaurants nearby.
Cons: Myriad resource consent issues; must host cricket; expensive option for what is effectively 13,000 extra seats.
North Harbour Stadium
Status: Existing 25,000-capacity stadium.
Location: Albany (20kms from CBD).
Result: A multi-purpose national stadium capable of hosting rugby, football, league and rock concerts.
Pros: No extra earthworks needed; cost is relatively low; resource consent virtually assured; have existing land for expansion.
Cons: Seen as difficult to get to; lack of accommodation and comparatively little bars and restaurants.
Status: Greenfields project.
Location: Seems to shift by the day but extremely close to CBD.
Result: A waterfront stadium capable of hosting multiple sports and events.
Pros: State of the art legacy for downtown Auckland; proximity to bars and restaurants.
Cons: Cost; resource consents; waterfront could be used more attractively for public; time to build.
Status: Existing sports ground with no structural foundations.
Location: Less than 1km from the CBD.
Result: A stadium capable of hosting multiple sports and events, except cricket.
Pros: Proximity to CBD; legacy for central Auckland; make use of an existing, but largely under-used sports ground.
Cons: Parking will be a major issue, even with underground carpark; just far enough from Britomart to put pedestrians off; flyover will need to be addressed quickly.
Cost: $215m (conceptual only but could rise well above this figure).