Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I don't care

That's pretty much my attitude to The Stadium, and indeed the entire Rugby World Cup. Sure, the event itself is good insofar as it will allow us to suck money from foreign rugby fans, and they will need somewhere to play the damn thing - but that's really where my interest begins and ends. Government paying for it? Well, it also pays for the NZSO - which I don't go to either - so I can hardly complain if rugby or other cultural events get government support as well. Provided its done properly, and actually built on time, then I really don't give a damn.

Of course, those are actually two very big reasons for concern. I'm not an engineer, but the thought of simply sticking piles in the seabed to find out whether the project is possible doesn't sound like a particularly good idea when the clockis ticking. Neither does bypassing the RMA with special legislation. The RMA exists for a good reason: to balance competing interests and allow communities to determine their preferred level of development. Despite the beliefs of rugby fans, the World Cup is not a national emergency which would justify casting that aside with a Muldoon-style National Development Act. If this means the waterfront stadium can't be completed on time, then maybe they should look at another option - or have started thinking about the problem a little sooner.

As for all this talk of an iconic waterfront development, I've heard a lot of this sort of thing over the years. Normally it's from small towns, and results in their errecting a giant fiberglass vegetable or corrugated iron gumboot - or worse, trying to turn their city council building into a casino. Its interesting to see that small-town insecurity extends even to the leaders of our largest city. But you have to wonder why they don't adopt the same solution. If they're so keen on a monument to their own greatness, a giant fiberglass penis on the waterfront would send a clear message of what Auckland is all about. But I suppose that would be redundant, given that they already have the Skytower...


Also, we have already been confirmed as holding the world cup, and our proposal involved the final at a renovated Eden park, with no promises of a new stadium.

So any economic rationale for the government paying for the new stadium is out the window. The tourists will already be coming here, the economic benefits of that are in the bag. A new stadium would add nothing to that*.

*Unless it would have a bigger capacity than Eden Park so that a few more tourists could attend the final...but this isn't likely.

It basically sounds like a really terrible idea.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/14/2006 02:17:00 PM

Sorry, I might have been wrong about a new stadium only having the capacity of Eden Park.

I guess any economic case would then rest on the additional cost of this new thing over an Eden Park redevelopment, versus the economic benefits of however many extra tourists could attend the final. With an allowance for whether it would help attract big events that otherwise would not have come here in the future.

At an eyeballing, it still sounds dumb.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/14/2006 02:24:00 PM

A giant penis? More like a vagina, surely ...

And don't be mean about the Sky Tower. Most Aucklanders like it these days, and it's where my nice wireless internet service comes from too ...

Posted by Russell Brown : 11/14/2006 02:31:00 PM

Russell: well, it could be a monument to the mayor as well: "Dick's dick"...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/14/2006 02:34:00 PM

I have no more interest in rugby than Idiot, but I am always amused by parochialism. So I was impressed by the "if we don't get a new stadium, the final will have to be played in Christchurch" argument. Because obviously it's worth a billion or so to forestall that awful prospect.

Having moved back to Christchurch, I find myself in two minds on the issue. On the one hand, I'm not keen to see stupid amounts of money being wasted on a redundant stadium that takes up valuable waterfront land. On the other, I'm not sure I'd object to a good deal of money being spent so that we don't have to have the World Cup in Christchurch.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/14/2006 04:44:00 PM

The NZSO doesn't get half a billion dollars.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 11/14/2006 05:54:00 PM

how much does the NZSO get?

Posted by Genius : 11/14/2006 07:33:00 PM

Genius: the NZSO grant (within Vote Arts, Culture, and Heritage [193KiB PDF]) for 2006/07 was $12,346,000.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/14/2006 07:55:00 PM

And it deserves every cent. You should go.

Posted by Chris Nimmo : 11/15/2006 08:15:00 AM

Having moved back to Christchurch, I find myself in two minds on the issue. On the one hand, I'm not keen to see stupid amounts of money being wasted on a redundant stadium that takes up valuable waterfront land.

Why is everyone repeating this like it's gospel? The part of the waterfront concern is currently an ugly carpark for used Japanese cars, from which the public is excluded by a high fence. We've been told for years it will be "opened up" but there's never been any sign of that happening, and given the commitment to redeveloping the tank farm area, I simply don't think that will happen.

Given the current hysteria, it may well be that hundreds of millions of dollars will after all be thrown at Eden Park, whose perimeter is 10 metres from residential housing on every side. We'll be stuck in the same old transport black hole, with a ground that just won't be able to be used to the extent that would justify the investment.

It would be nice if people could take a little break from heaping odium on the waterfront stadium and look at what a dead end Eden Park really is.

Posted by Russell Brown : 11/15/2006 08:56:00 AM

I think a lot of the attachment to Eden Park is emotional - it's the "home" of rugby for so many of us. I actually thought that was part of the bid for the World Cup - the pulling power of a final played on the hallowed turf of Eden Park - but maybe I'm wrong.

Also I guess looking at Auckland City I can see a lot of other things I would rather we spent this dosh on, and Eden Park will simply be cheaper.

RB is right about the waterfront area being looked at for the stadium - it's not right to say that without the stadium it will somehow be magically opened up to the public (although given all this kerfuffle, I'd say some important people's memories may have been jogged about past commitments by Ports of Auckland).

In terms of the dead end nature of Eden Park though, the Eden Park Trust Board has been buying up a great deal of housing around the park in recent times, with the aim of not only expaning Eden Park but also putting a green belt around it. So I'm not convinced that it is totally dead end. It's also very near a train line to the city and West (Kingsland station), and perhaps having a stadium that is a bit hard to get to might be the impetus the city needs to bite the bullet and spend the money on a comprehensive public transport system? (Impossible to complete before the world cup of course, but a good excuse to make a start)

Posted by Span : 11/15/2006 09:31:00 AM

As a Kingsland resident myself, I don't see what the problem is with Eden Park. There aren't that many game days (about 20/30?). Just about everyone living in the area moved in after Eden Park was built.

The Eden Park environs aren't really a "suburb" - in 20 years time I suspect they'll be regarded as part of the city centre in the same way as Newmarket or Parnell. We aren't talking a purely residential suburb like Glenfield here.

I think most people living in the streets right by the stadium appreciate cheaper rents and being able to walk across the road to matches - not to mention the opportunity to make a few dollars from car parking.

I suspect the objections come from the same people who object to the speedway - they've moved here and want to glitz the place up and make a killing on their property values.

Posted by Rich : 11/15/2006 10:45:00 AM

Russell: there are other problems with the waterfront site. How will it cope with a metre of sea-level rise - the current upper bound over the next century? (Seven metres - the rise we'll get if Greenland goes, will probably turn it into a billion-dollar swimming pool - but that will be the least of our worries). What will we do when we need the waterfront for things like wharves again when peak oil prices mass air travel and air freight out of the market in ten or twenty or thirty years time? Like the attempt to turn Whenuapai into a commercial airport, it seems that they're not looking as far ahead as they should in the planning.

The positive side is that its only a short walk from Britomart, which will mean that people will be able to get to the game on public transport. Which is quite an advantage.

And OTOH, as Isaac points out, this is in one sense a complete waste of money. What matters is tha the event happens and we scam lots of money from it - not where the games happen to be held.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 11/15/2006 11:41:00 AM

Idiot/Savant: I'm glad someone has at last mentioned sea level rise. I wondered if I was suffering from a neurotic obsession, since that was the first thing I thought of yet it doesn't seem to figure at all in the discussion going on. I wrote to Mallard about it. He assured me that his officials would be taking that into account. If they did he hasn't mentioned it anywhere else that I have noticed. It seems to me that if the effects of climate change are a more substantial rise in sea level than the IPCC predictions so far, which is by no means an extreme possibility, then our grandchildren will have quite enough to adapt to on the waterfront without throwing in a massive stadium as well. Some prudence is surely called for in the light of current climate science, but it looks as if we're not yet ready to treat global warming with that level of seriousness.

Posted by Anonymous : 11/15/2006 12:12:00 PM

How hard would it be to build a seven metre concrete seawall or bund around the wharf area?

It would actually be easir to do this around a stadium (which doesn't require a flat wall for waterside vessel loading) than around the current dock facilities.

Posted by Rich : 11/15/2006 01:02:00 PM

I suspect the objections come from the same people who object to the speedway - they've moved here and want to glitz the place up and make a killing on their property values.

I think that's unfair. The vast majority of people moved in before there was a hint of the current development, and most of them before the ASB Stand went in and considerably increased the number of non-sporting events held midweek.

Posted by Russell Brown : 11/15/2006 01:18:00 PM

In 5 years' time we'll all be watching the rugby world cup on our new nice free to air digital television 10ft plasma screens at home or around town, or on your phone, or anywhere you want. I doubt anyone would want to spend good money on a seat at the stadium itself, wherever it will be held - and all this provided the All Blacks are in the final. Maybe having rugby at a smaller, more intimate venue is far more atmospheric.
I don't think it makes any sporting, cultural or economic sense to spend a cool half billion on a white elephant like that. Maybe an actual white elephant statue instead would do more to attract tourists - and provide a good lookout point over the harbour to boot.
Regards the Sky Tower, I still hate it and it still looks terrible, despite RB's comment.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 11/15/2006 03:43:00 PM

Aaargh! this stadium thing is making me crazy.
1)Do we actually need another one?
2)How will the waterfront site affect Auckland traffic flows.
That's about it really and I'm not seeing good answers to either question.
Aucklands traffic is not going to be helped by a stadium anywhere unless the stadium is in another town, which sounds like a good idea as it will share the boatloads of money we will all be getting, around.
And I'm a little peeved about how much money is getting put up for this when it is so very hard to get money for other stuff. Anyone tried to get a speech therapist for their child lately?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/15/2006 03:52:00 PM

I was in favour of Carlaw Park, but seeing that's out the window, I'm actually getting a bit excited about the waterfront.

1) All our current stadia are useless. Mt Smart is ugly, Albany is 3 hours at peak from Papakura and has no PT, Mt Eden can't hold concerts.

2) I'm hoping (maybe foolishly) that we can avoid the worst of global warming - doing my bit by driving a hybrid.

3) Public transport!!! The 2011 is as good as any excuse to get this sorted out. Helen (& H2), I'm reliably informed, are super keen to get this sorted. It's up to Aucklander's to now point out that they also need the dosh to get the rail electrified, buses running everywhere, etc.

4) It'll help frame the inner city waterfront area when/if it's developed. It's a shame that the Hilton will frame it from the other end, but oh well... at least guests there won't have to look at a port any more.

5) The NZSO is irrelevant in this argument.

6) I'd hate to see more houses demolished in the area around Mt. Eden. There are some lovely houses that deserve to stand forever as heritage buildings in the surrounding streets. I'd rather see Eden Park demolished and turned into a park.

Posted by James : 11/16/2006 01:34:00 AM

James wrote:
...Albany is 3 hours at peak from Papakura and has no PT..."

If 'PT' means public transport, that's flat out untrue. I can say that with some authority, and I live on the North Shore, don't drive, live literally across the road from the Constellation Drive park-and-ride terminal which is part of the Northern Expressway which will be complete well before 2011. (And the Albany park-and-ride terminal is already complete.)

You could already use public transport (bus/train) from Papakura to Britomart, and then hop an express from the Briotmart Terminal to Albany on a dedicated bus route. But I guess that's the problem with this whole debate - Mallard and Hubbard already have their minds made up, and we silly plebs shouldn't let any real considered debate get in the way of their edifice complexes.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 11/16/2006 07:09:00 AM

A park at Eden Park would be an excellent scheme. Even better it could have a Munich-style biergarten in it.

Assuming we won't get that (I assume if the stadium gets built Eden Park will go bankrupt and be sold for development) I don't think many the buildings around Eden Park are preferable to a bit of greenery. They're mostly all relocatable anyway, so they could always be dragged elsewhere.

Posted by Rich : 11/16/2006 10:58:00 AM

Give the waterfront to Auckland Cricket and Auckland rugby in return for Eden Park. Put in a new subdivision with a public park and use the money from the development to help pay for the new stadium. Just don't knock down Eden Park before 2011, just in case!

Posted by Anonymous : 11/16/2006 12:31:00 PM

"Mt Eden can't hold concerts."

Irrelevant. How many concerts do we have that require 60,000 seats. I count one (U2). How many won't fit in the St James, the Vector Arena or Mt Smart?

Posted by Anonymous : 11/16/2006 01:28:00 PM

whether or not the residents organizations are unreasonable (and as it happens I agree with rich and think they are) they WILL oppose development and not only that but the government will be abusing process if they ignore those complaints or dont give them due consideration but they may well have to do that in order to get the job done.

time to put the axe to Eden park... I agree with the idea eden park should be converted into a bit of housing and a park.

Posted by Genius : 11/17/2006 07:13:00 AM

the other alternative of course is that the threat of losing the rugby world cup might cause the public to demand the repeal of the resource management act etc and the residents might get steam-rolled. But I dont think playing those sorts of games is a good idea.

Posted by Genius : 11/17/2006 07:16:00 AM