'Once in a generation opportunity' - consortium pitches Auckland stadium at 'zero cost' to ratepayers

A consortium of local companies is proposing a 50,000-seat stadium on the Auckland water front to be built in the next 10 years and at zero upfront cost to tax and rate payers.

The consortium claimed it would be funded entirely by the development of commercial and residential precincts adjacent to the stadium at Bledisloe Wharf, as well as Eden Park, and by avoiding future maintenance costs at Mt Smart Stadium.

Map of POAL Operations Areas
Map of POAL Operations Areas Source: Ports of Auckland.

The multi-purpose, fully enclosed stadium would be "the centrepiece of a world-class waterfront that would be breathtakingly beautiful", with a capacity that could be adjusted up to 65,000 for major events and down sized for smaller events.

It could host entertainment, cultural events, rugby, league, and football and would replace Eden Park and Mt Smart Stadium, venues the consortium said were unfit for purpose and have significant operational constraints.

Auckland city center aerial view, New Zealand
The stadium would be partly sunken into Bledisloe Wharf. Source: istock.com

"We have both a need and an opportunity to open up more of the waterfront to the public and, in doing so, turn an eyesore into something magnificent," Consortium chair Dave Wigmore said.

ONN 1 News at 6 promo image
For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The consortium is made of Auckland companies including Ernst & Young, Simpson Grierson, Jones Lang Lasalle, Engeo, Peddle Thorp, Planning Focus, Phil O’Reilly Design, Rider Levett Bucknall, Buildmedia and The Property Strategists, as well as USA-based global stadium architects HOK.

The design, previously dubbed "The Crater", would see the stadium sunk into the seabed alongside Bledisloe Wharf, which would be redeveloped as a mixed-use Bledisloe Quarter.

"Sinking the stadium into the seabed eliminates most of the contentious, costly and complex aesthetic and engineering issues of an above ground stadium and is very doable from an engineering perspective," Mr Wigmore said.

"The stadium will not encroach into the harbour beyond the northern tip of Bledisloe Wharf, will involve the removal of other obsolete wharves, ensuring the net seabed take is minimised."

Its design and engineering will be in accordance with international best practice to meet accepted seismic design principles and recommendation on rising sea levels and tsunami modelling.

Mr Wigmore said the consortium had received positive feedback after sharing the proposal to as many stakeholders as possible before going public.

The consortium said the stadium was at the single most accessible location in Auckland, connected to the CBD public transport hub. Source: Auckland Waterfront Consortium

Despite it not costing rate or taxpayers, Mr Wigmore said it would require support from Auckland Council and the Crown.

"We've talked to the Mayor’s office, key Ministers, local and central government organisations, Ports of Auckland and a range of other stakeholders, and are in the process of engaging with Ngati Whatua. The feedback from stakeholders so far has been overwhelmingly positive," he said.

Bledisloe Quarter will feature approximately 2,500 new inner-city dwellings housing more than 6,000 residents, commercial areas accommodating more than 6,000 employees and would contribute to the revitalisation of Auckland’s downtown area as an attractive place to live, work and visit.

The consortium plans to continue discussions with all stakeholders before undertaking a detailed feasibility study and putting together a proposal to attract a lead investor and/or developer.

Consortium member Michael Sage and lead architect Richard Goldie pitched their idea to Breakfast today. Source: Breakfast