Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah today announced Mount Smart Stadium will be the club’s Auckland home venue for the 2015 NRL campaign, confirming nearly all regular season games will be played there.
The announcement follows the Vodafone Warriors’ return to their spiritual home for their first game this year against Newcastle on Sunday.
The decision comes after the Vodafone Warriors opened their 2014 programme with three home games at Eden Park against St George Illawarra, Canterbury-Bankstown and Canberra with a fourth against Wests Tigers played at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
“We’ve done what we said we were going to do in supporting the RFA (Regional Facilities Auckland) strategy by trialling Eden Park in the early part of this season,” said Scurrah.
“We’ve now fully analysed the three games we played at the venue and have considered feedback from our partners, our members, the public at large, and really importantly our ambassador Sir Peter Leitch.
“Taking this into account there are insufficient compelling reasons at this point for us to contemplate a permanent move to Eden Park.
“In the four years we have used Eden Park we have learned a lot about the venue. It offers great facilitates and is well set up for large scale rugby league events like the three one-off NRL games in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as well as the NRL Nines and Tests the Kiwis have played there.
“The Eden Park team is great to deal with and certainly we are happy to keep the dialogue open on the longer term potential. However, at this point in time we have a range of concerns about the suitability of permanently playing all of our Auckland games there.”
Vodafone Warriors owner Eric Watson, who is in New Zealand briefly, said Mount Smart Stadium had much more in its favour in the current climate.
“We have consistently said it has always been our preference to stay at Mount Smart Stadium. It is and remains our home,” he said.
“It is what our members and fans think about the options. We have listened to them.
“Until there are compelling reasons for the club, our partners and supporters to support us moving elsewhere it would be totally irresponsible of us to make a move away from Mount Smart Stadium.
“The smart move for us right now is to stay at our home.”
Watson reiterated the Vodafone Warriors had another four years to run on their contract at Mount Smart Stadium.
“We would also like to talk to council about improving the facilities at Mt Smart Stadium,” he said.
Scurrah added the club’s planning for the 2015 season was already under way.