INDEPENDENT NEWS

Mike Lee calls to look beyond Eden Park

Published: Fri 23 Nov 2007 11:58 AM
Mike Lee Calls to Look Beyond Eden Park
Syed Akbar Kamal
ARC chairman Mike Lee, in an interview to “Darpan-The Mirror”, has called for Penrose located Mt. Smart stadium to be considered over Eden Park that he terms a better legacy for the people of Auckland which the government should consider in terms of resilience, flexibility and value for money.
He contends that ‘with more public money that is made available for the upgrade of Eden Park the more the contractors will put the price up’. He cited steady escalations in cost projections in recent times. He said that in view of the sky rocketing costs for the upgrade, ARC is studying options for Mt. Smart stadium as a viable alternative to Eden Park.
He said that he as Chairman and the ARC has come under tremendous pressure to put funds for the upgrade. ‘I am beginning to worry about the legacy value of Eden Park or the lack of it. I believe that we need to look at very seriously in terms of legacy & space at Mt. Smart stadium.’
He emphasizes that it is not too late to look in the direction of Mt. Smart which could do well with the alleged government backing $190 million projections.
With new estimates of $270 million, the Auckland City Council and the ARC have come under increased pressure to cough up at least $20 million each to contribute to the shortfall. He lamented the contractors and the construction companies are raising the upgrade threshold to higher levels in the wake of Rugby fever attracting potential contributions from various bodies.
Auckland City Mayor John Banks refused to toe the line set by his predecessor Dick Hubbard to front up with what he calls as rate payers money down the drain. ‘The government has billions of dollars in its “piggy bank” and I want to see the colour of their money. So far I have not seen any;’ he said stressing that some contribution can be made to meet infrastructure costs outside confines of Eden Park.
Mike Lee says he is convinced Mt. Smart is the way to go as a sensible alternative option. It appears ARC is clearly opposed to put its share in the upgrade game that has refused to die down ever since the demise of the extravagant waterfront stadium floated by the government.
He termed persisting with Eden Park’s legacy as a disservice to the public and is closely evaluating Mt. Smart owned by the Crown that could have potential for hosting the Commonwealth games, is suitable for track & field athletics and is strategically placed to public transport & motorways. Mt Smart Stadium is conveniently located in Penrose, just a ten-minute drive from central Auckland and Auckland International Airport.
He said the ARC would be recommending Mt. Smart to the government as a long term investment for a better legacy. The ARC has been managing Mt. Smart for nearly quarter of a century. It is part of the regional parks network and belongs to the residents and ratepayers of the Auckland region. The stadium hosts a wide variety of users. It is home of the Vodafone Warriors rugby league team and the Counties Manukau Steelers rugby team. Mt Smart Stadium is also used by athletics clubs and Oceania soccer, for rugby sevens and touch rugby and for numerous entertainment events. For over a decade it has hosted the Big Day Out music festival.
ENDS

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