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
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.