It's not often I praise a councillor, in fact I don't think I've had the pleasure before, but I have to say that Cr. Richard Simpson's suggestion posted on Russell Brown's blog that any money spent redeveloping stadiums for the Rugby World Cup be spent at Carlaw Park is an idea that has legs. [See Simpson's Powerpoint presentation here.] If you're going to do it (which is certainly another argument I'm happy to argue against) then at least do it right.
A stadium on the waterfront is just a nonsense. And continuing to pour money into the white elephant that Eden Park becoming is just foolishness built upon stupidity. Building it at the foot of the domain at the site above can do so much for the city, as Simpson explains, that any other alternative just looks flawed.
Now I must confess, I do have a weakness for cities with good sports stadiums -- Melbourne for example does it so well with Olympic Park/MCG/Laver Arena/Telstra Dome and all the transport connections that connect these so easily to the city that (Wellington's 'Cake Tin' and its own connections with the city excluded) it makes our own facilities seem decidely third-rate. Having a beer in a downtown pub just fifteen minutes before a game starts and then shooting out easily and comfotably to the MCG or Telstra Dome to watch a titanic sporting struggle is one of the world's great pleasures, but it's not something you're ever going to manage with a stadium sitting out at Eden Park.
As Simpson points out, redeveloping the carpark of Carlaw Park has enormous potential for beautifully re-linking Parnell to the domain and and renovating the Waipapa stream (right) and domain edge into something gorgeous:
This backyard of Parnell facing the Domain (left) could become its front lawn. Cafes could be set up in this sheltered valley where people could sit by the stream - with the Domain, Stadium and a sleek new Domain/Museum/Stadium station could serve as backdrop.
Furthermore, the site already has superb motorway transport links, and with the railway running straight past it's as simple as placing a station (or two) right there.
A stadium on this Carlaw Park site would catalyse the use of public transport and transform Auckland into a world class city. Carlaw Park could be serviced by a new Musuem/Domain/Parnell Station on the Southern line, at the same time as a temporary Kingdon St Station on the Western line. Run concurrently this is more than twice the capacity offered by Britomart. For road transport Carlaw Park is serviced by SH16 at its front door.
This site is very near Auckland hospital for rapidly addressing serious injuries. In situations of major emergencies, the stadium at this site would serve as strategic assembly point (eg. as New Orleans Super Dome served during Katrina).
In wet weather, a covered stadium on this site could serve as a standby contingency for major events in the Domain. The Museum steps could serve a podium for the opening of the RWC and for prize giving etc. where hundreds of thousands of people could attend and participate. Auckland would shine at its best for international eyes.
There are many benefits a Stadium on this site could serve for better connecting Parnell, the University, Domain, and CBD together for pedestrians and cyclists. A stadium on this site could also provide car parking for these areas [perhaps even under the stadium?], and could enable the car parking in the Domain to be greatly reduced.
I have to say, I do think the idea has merit. Eden Park is a dinosaur both in terms of access and facilities, and the site's many restrictions make these hindrances major ones and more difficult. Time in my view to bite the bullet, get rid of Eden Park and (if the money's going to be spent anyway) build a proper world class stadium in a way that develop and enhance what is presently only an 'armpit' of the city to become something great
And after all, with sites in that part of town going for between $300-500,000, bowling Eden Park and selling off the land would net something approaching half what any new stadium would cost anyway.
LINKS: Hang on, what about Carlaw Park? - Richard Simpson, Public Address
Carlaw Park: Rugby World Cup Stadium [Powerpoint presentation] - Richard Simpson, Public Address