A better future for North Harbour Stadium

By Jennah Wootten, Deputy Chair Tātaki Auckland Unlimited  

Any thought of change at North Harbour Stadium is a hot topic because the North Shore fought hard to get a stadium off the ground, and locals are fiercely protective of their area. I went to high school and university on ‘the Shore’, and am proud to still call it home after more than 25 years.

Unfortunately, misinformation about options for the stadium’s future is being spread widely – particularly the false claim that Tātaki Auckland Unlimited (TAU) is set to knock the stadium down and sell off all the land it sits on to developers. Emotions are running high, partly due to a perception that considering redevelopment is an insult to those who built it.

I can assure you, those of us proposing a collective vision for a brighter stadium future mean no disrespect to its founders. 

It’s important for everyone to understand what is really in the LTP about North Harbour Stadium. Council has put three options out for public views, and demolition and sale is not one of them. To be equally clear, Albany’s popular pool complex will stay as is – and the community playing fields around the precinct perimeter will not be affected. 

My career has been in sport and major events, so I understand the playing field intimately. My view about North Harbour Stadium’s future has been reaffirmed by discussions with a large number of key local stakeholders including respected leaders such as Adrian Donald (CEO of North Harbour Rugby), Laura Menzies (CEO of Northern Region Football) and Chris Casey (CEO of Tennis Northern).

Most quickly conclude that North Harbour Stadium isn’t working for its main long-term users today and status quo (option 1 in the LTP consultation) won’t work into the future. Instead, they believe the stadium needs to be adapted to be more fit-for-purpose and to better meet the community’s needs.

The venue has by a wide margin been the least used of Auckland’s stadium network for at least five years. The stadium needs tens of millions spent on it in the next decade, just to keep the infrastructure up to scratch. It’s too big and expensive to hire for most community groups.

But back to the exciting concept I envisage when I talk to a range of passionate North Shore leaders: an adapted stadium which is unique in our region; which attracts events that are the hottest tickets in town.  We can seize this opportunity now; it would be a huge shame to let it slip by.

Please read the consultation information for yourself, but essentially council is asking for your views on three stadium options: one is leave it as is and spend up to $33 million in the next decade to keep it up to standard; two is to redevelop the stadium so that it better suits the community’s needs, with that $33 million re-allocated towards this cost. The third option is to change the stadium’s operational management model (under either a status quo stadium or a re-developed one).

Having listened to a range of North Shore leaders, and knowing the changing world of sport and entertainment, TAU’s clear preference is for option 2. It would create an amazing legacy for future generations; and we’d stop pouring ratepayers’ money into a stadium that isn’t working for anybody anymore.  

Please have your say by 28 March. You know what this proud North Shore ratepayer’s submission will be.


Photo Credit - Photosport