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Herald readers opt for Eden Park
Wednesday November 22, 2006
By Mathew Dearnaley and Wayne Thompson

Eden Park is the preferred World Rugby Cup stadium choice of Herald readers.

That is clear from a breakdown of emails received by the newspaper in response to questions about readers' choice of arena to host the 2011 cup final.

A total of 12,606 emails were sent to the Herald by last Saturday morning.

Of these 29.67 per cent opted for the waterfront.

Those who replied No to the waterfront were then asked what they preferred.

Analysed as a percentage of the total, the breakdown reveals that 39.5 per cent preferred Eden Park as their stadium of choice.

A further 25.4 per cent backed North Harbour Stadium at Albany. Readers were less enthusiastic about the World Cup venue slipping southward to Christchurch's Jade Stadium. This was supported by 3.8 per cent while 2.5 per cent opted for no stadium at all.

Yesterday the overall count of readers' emails stood at 11,065 readers saying No to a waterfront stadium and 4786 saying Yes.

North Shore Mayor George Wood was delighted if somewhat surprised that his city's stadium ranked closely behind the waterfront option in the minds of Herald readers.

He said last night that it vindicated his view that North Harbour Stadium was the logical platform to build on if New Zealand is to be ready in good time to host the cup.

It showed how short-sighted he believed the Government was in giving Aucklanders a stark choice between two unreliable alternatives, the waterfront and Eden Park.

Timing and space problems would not be a problem at the northern stadium, which has fewer than 20,000 seats but is on a 28ha site with plenty of room to grow.

Mr Wood said that North Shore people had felt unfairly left out of a debate of critical importance to the region. "We feel shut out."

But he believed the pendulum may be swinging closer to them, and hoped to garner support from Auckland City Council members at a presentation his team had been invited to make on Thursday afternoon, before that city's stadium vote in the evening.

Mr Wood said North Harbour, which would be available for redevelopment debt-free after a $30 million loan his council had agreed to take over from its trust board, had consent to expand to 45,000 seats and he foresaw no difficulties in pushing that to the 60,000-seat capacity required for the final.

It would have little difficulty meeting noise and other requirements and he believed the Northern Busway, due to open at the end of next year, would be able to funnel 20,000 spectators an hour into the vicinity of the stadium.

In a separate poll, the Newmarket Business Association says that out of 400 members 53.4 per cent said they preferred Eden Park and 46.6 per cent said the waterfront.

The waterfront option was perceived by 61.3 per cent as the best for their business, with 38.7 per cent backing Eden Park.

Architects oppose waterfront

Auckland's architects - a community priding itself on no shortage of vision - appear more vehemently opposed to a waterfront stadium than even Herald readers.

The Institute of Architects' Auckland branch says that of 264 members who responded to a snap three-day email poll, 74 per cent believed a 37m-high stadium had no place on the region's waterfront.

Asked about building the stadium on the Government-preferred site across Captain Cook and Marsden wharves, just 21 per cent were in favour.

When asked if they supported the redevelopment of Eden Park, they were more evenly split, with 41 per cent backing that option and 39 per cent opposed.

The remaining 20 per cent were undecided.

Institute branch immediate past chairman Kerry Avery said the strongest message from the survey was that any decision must be made on the basis of independent urban-design analysis.

Factors to be considered included crowd travel expectation, the effect on wind patterns at street level, the visual impact from multiple viewpoints, noise and light intrusion on neighbours and complementary uses to ensure high public activity at all times around the stadium - even when it is unoccupied.