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Waterfront stadium: Reaction
Friday November 10, 2006

Reaction to today's announcement by the Government that it prefers a new waterfront stadium for the 2011 Rugby World Cup:

The group, which represents Auckland's CBD community applauded the Government's preference.
The key to its successful development would be its location, said chief executive Alex Swney.
``Aucklanders have two weeks to demonstrate their support for the waterfront option. We want them to demonstrate their support for what Heart of the City thinks is the better waterfront option -- Bledisloe Wharf.
``We need to be crystal clear on this -- putting the stadium on Bledisloe helps establish a broader central city waterfront for future generations of Aucklanders.''

Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard welcomed the announcement.

He said: "There are good points to either a waterfront stadium or a redeveloped Eden Park. The government's strong preference for the waterfront site aligns with our council's view.

"However, this is a decision in principle only and there is still a great deal of work to do over the next two weeks to ensure that it is viable. This will include looking into the exact details of the location, funding options, and most importantly the wider design considerations.

"Auckland City Council will do all that it can to support the government's investigations, to ensure the final decision is undoubtedly the best option for the city, the region and the nation."

The waterfront stadium has the conditional support of the tournament organisers, Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd Chairman Jock Hobbs said.

He said: "The New Zealand Rugby Union and New Zealand Government made a commitment to a 60,000-seat, world-class stadium in Auckland in our bid to the International Rugby Board in November last year.

"The vision for Stadium New Zealand, as presented today, is bold, innovative and exciting. While the final decision is yet to be made, RNZ 2011 is supportive of the decision to proceed with a waterfront site, subject to appropriate support from other stakeholders and the satisfactory completion of our own work on the proposal."

He said the tournament's stadia development remained on track.

The Tourism Industry Association is against the possibility of airport and bed taxes being imposed on visitors to help pay for the stadium.

Chief executive Fiona Luhrs said: "Such taxes would mean people visiting Auckland, whether on business or holiday, would end up paying for a stadium used predominantly by Aucklanders.

"Bed taxes will lead to a reduction in overnight visits, impose costs on individual tourism operators and put the margins of some businesses beyond the point of viability."

The Motel Association voiced the same concerns.

Chief executive Michael Barnes said: "It is nonsense... motels are small businesses working all hours to make a living. To believe they have the resources to administer it (a bed tax) is criminal."

Green Party Sports spokesman Keith Locke: "I see several problems in the waterfront stadium. We don't need a giant stadium at the bottom of Queen St, out of all proportion to the surrounding recreational space.

"We are a city of sails, not stadium city. The Greens are certainly not keen on the government's proposal to override the Resource Management Act to complete the waterfront stadium on time. We know from the emails pouring in that there will be plenty of objections at the consent stage. They should be given a chance to be heard.

"The enjoyment of our waterfront by future generations should not be held hostage to government whim, or the Rugby World Cup timetable.

"We note that the waterfront option is considerably more expensive than Eden Park, even before the expected cost blow-outs on such a novel project.

"If the government has a lot of extra cash to pay for an Auckland project its first priority should be to electrify the suburban rail network, and put on more trains, not blow the money on a 'think big' stadium which destroys our waterfront.

Act's leader Rodney Hide said it would be a blight on the waterfront -- if it could be built at all.

"Auckland already has enough white elephants constructed by politicians, we don't need Helen Clark's 'great white whale' polluting our waterfront," the Epsom MP said.

"To build the waterfront whale, the Government will need legislation to override the Resource Management Act, take land from Ports of Auckland and raise new taxes to fund the construction."

Mr Hide predicted there would be a budget blowout and the stadium would end up costing more than $1 billion.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said the announcement was made "without even a courtesy call to mana whenua" and he was disgusted.

"The word is that tangata whenua have been snubbed, once more," he said. "This is absolutely typical of a 'consult when it suits' government."

Mr Sharples said the Ngati Whatua o Orakei Maori Trust Board signed an Agreement in Principle with the Crown to settle all their outstanding historical Treaty of Waitangi claims in June this year.

"Nothing has formally reached the board's table to even begin the conversation about a major project occurring in the rohe of Ngati Whatua ki Orakei," he said.

Leader Winston Peters said his party supported the concept of a national rugby stadium on the waterfront, but only if there were guarantees that it would be completed in time for the world cup.

"The contract must be watertight and contain such onerous penalties that no deadlines will be missed,'' he said.

"There must be no risk of New Zealand being made an international laughing stock by having the world cup final played in a partially completed stadium.''

"If local authorities can be convinced that it can be built in time then any ratepayer contribution must come from across the region - not be restricted to Auckland City," said head of the Newmarket Business Association, Cameron Brewer.

"The cost of the proposed national stadium should fall at the feet of the Government first and foremost but unsurprisingly the Government has made clear that it will be a mix of funding including an Auckland contribution.

"Unfortunately Mayor Dick Hubbard has been too quick to commit the stretched Auckland City ratepayer. That is simply not fair."