Rugby league's support for downtown stadium concept

Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George has reaffirmed the club's support for a downtown stadium in Auckland while the NRL and the New Zealand Rugby League also back the concept.

The topic is back in circulation following the release by the Auckland mayor's office of Regional Facilities Auckland's Venue Development Strategy (VDS) which aims to overcome the region's ageing stadium infrastructure and develop fit-for-purpose facilities that better meet the city’s needs.

The VDS recommends speedway shift from Western Springs to allow the development of an international-quality oval sports field and that a full business case determine the viability of a central city rectangular stadium compared to the cost and benefits of redeveloping Eden Park.

“As we have previously stated, the Vodafone Warriors support the strategy and are excited about the long-term benefits a downtown stadium in Auckland would provide," said George.

"We look forward to continuing to be involved in the consultation process and working with all associated parties.”

The Vodafone Warriors apart, the RFA strategy has been backed by other local, national and international sporting bodies. In terms of submissions or previously publicly stated positions, New Zealand Cricket, New Zealand Rugby, New Zealand Football, the Blues, the NRL and the AFL have all supported the aims of the VDS.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg says his organisation is “very excited” about the potential for a new purpose-built rectangular stadium in the heart of Auckland.

“Having a world-class stadium in the city will provide a compelling case to bring the NRL’s marquee events to Auckland,” he said. 

“When we determine where we want to play our best content, a key consideration is giving our fans and players the best possible experience.”

New Zealand Rugby League acting CEO Hugh Martyn says a downtown stadium solution is long overdue and would be an amenity the whole country could be proud of.

“Other cities around the world have made central city stadiums real success stories and we don’t see Auckland’s situation being any different,” he said.

"We view a new state-of-the-art stadium as being good for all sport in Auckland and beneficial for the rest of the country too.”

RFA CEO Chris Brooks said the Venue Development Strategy is one of the most important building blocks in developing the Auckland of the future. 

“Because of the number of stakeholders involved in the process, we see the Venue Development Strategy as belonging to the city,” he said.

“The decisions being made now will serve future generations and ensure the long-term sustainability of important sporting, music and cultural events, providing the best possible experience for hirers, fans and the wider Auckland ratepayer.”