In 2012, Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) was empowered by Auckland Council to review Auckland’s four major outdoor stadiums (Mt Smart, Western Springs, North Harbour stadiums and Eden Park) and develop a strategy that enhanced and future-proofed key stadium infrastructure.
RFA's Draft Venue Development Strategy is a dynamic and responsive framework and is the result of seven years of consultation with entities representing more than a third of Auckland’s population, including organisations at local, regional, national and international levels. It is a collaborative framework developed by RFA with a view to the management, planning for and enhancement of the city's outdoor stadium infrastructure to meet Auckland's needs now and into the future.
The strategy aims to create a unified, customer-focused network of fit-for-purpose stadiums to benefit all sections of the sport and entertainment community and their patrons, and ensure long term value for rate payers. It has evolved through stakeholder feedback and the changing circumstances of core tenants, with the primary objectives established in 2012 remaining unchanged:
- Provide an integrated management model for Auckland’s major stadia infrastructure
- Enhance fan engagement
- Increase revenue
- Minimise operating costs across all stadia
- Significantly increase utilisation
- Remove duplication in capital investment.
In response to stakeholder feedback gathered in recent years, the strategy also anticipates specialist oval and rectangular stadiums that can cater for regional, national and international sporting events and concerts.
It captures the future consideration of significant investment into redeveloping Eden Park or building a new stadium in the central city, with each option encapsulating the concept of an exclusive and specialist rugby, football and rugby League venue with the flexibility and scope for regular franchise and major international sporting events, and concerts. It proposes a new oval stadium capable of hosting all forms of international cricket at Western Springs, while also repurposing Mt Smart and North Harbour Stadiums into high performance training and community venue clusters.
The strategic direction has been broadly backed by local, national and international sporting bodies. Leading organisations such as New Zealand Cricket, New Zealand Rugby, the Vodafone Warriors, New Zealand Football, the Blues, and the NRL have all supported the aims of the strategy. Separate to this, the Eden Park Trust Board has engaged with Auckland Council and secured funding support for the next three years. The Trust will be engaged in the next phase of strategy consultation.
RFA is committed to using the Venue Development Strategy as the guiding principle to enhance the city's ageing stadium infrastructure. The final roadmap to delivering success is still to be determined in collaboration with Auckland Council, the city's planning agencies and key stakeholders.