Auckland And Their Silly Stadium Situation

I quite like Mt Smart to be honest

I quite like Mt Smart to be honest

Kiwis love to hate on Aucklanders and as a Jaffa myself I don't blame non-Aucklanders. Especially with this silly stadium situation that Auckland has got itself into, it's just one of many examples of Auckland getting something wrong with the funky smell of ego, a lack of common sense and the standard neglect of the everyday Aucklander wofting south down State Highway 1. 

There are so many different parties involved, with different agendas that this is a difficult situation to explain and could be one of the reasons why their is little cohesion in thought or action. Recent events however have shed light on the stadium situation with the New Zealand Warriors finally sealing their future at Mt Smart stadium as they rejected moves to Western Springs and Eden Park. 

Throw in the shambles of a pitch that we saw at QBE Stadium and the absence of a fun/vibrant/typically kiwi Test cricket venue and we have a mess that needs addressing. 

I like Mt Smart and as I have gone to Eden Park to watch rugby and cricket since I was a youngin' I have fond memories/a love for Eden Park. In my eyes Auckland could get away with having two rectangle stadiums and a cute cricket venue but even having two rectangle stadiums seems a bit excessive, let alone three. Brisbane for example plays NRL, Super Rugby and A-League football at Suncorp Stadium so why does Auckland have three stadiums?

Sure the North Shore needs some sort of stadium  but I struggle to see the purpose of a biggish stadium like QBE Stadium which is biggish in size and stature, not capacity. 

It's my understanding that the Warriors and other sports teams like the Wellington Phoenix don't see Eden Park as a viable option because they have to pay to use Eden Park. Now consider that NRL clubs are lured away from their 'suburban' grounds in Sydney, paid $100,000 to play at ANZ Stadium yet here we are in Auckland having to pay to use Eden Park? Just like the Brisbane comparison, I'm struggling to see the logic here.

There's absolutely no reason why the Auckland Blues and Warriors can't share a stadium. This simply isn't feasible now though as Eden Park is a beast that needs to be used - the Blues can't move to an upgraded Mt Smart and the Warriors have understandably gone cold on Eden Park. We must simply live with this fact, as silly as it is and be reminded of how dumb us Aucklanders can be.

The Wildcard and I have discussed the joy of watching ASB Premiership games in quaint grounds that have personality like Kiwitea Street, over ASB Premiership games at a hollow QBE Stadium. Auckland's two football teams both have grounds which suit their needs with Auckland City FC calling Kiwitea Street home while Waitakere United play at Fred Taylor Park, so there's no real need to take these teams away from their home grounds and if there was, Mt Smart or Eden Park would do a pretty good job of hosting.

Ah cricket. Auckland, Aotearoa's biggest city and general melting pot simply doesn't have a cricket ground that does the trick. Anyone who has watched Test cricket at Eden Park would probably agree with me when I say that it sucks in providing a 'Test cricket experience'. Concrete jungles are suitable for big Australian cities or India where stands are packed but Eden Park's horrible angles and lay out, coupled with sitting in cramped seats for a day or two just kills the buzz of a fan. 

Around Aotearoa, other cities/towns have nailed the 'kiwi Test ground' vibe and aesthetic. All it takes is a grass bank and in Auckland's case, enough seating to house 20,000 people; imagine the atmosphere that 20,000 people would provide as they watched Test cricket played on an oval/circular ground (oh the humanity - a circular ground!!!!!) with decent sized boundaries. 

No I don't want Test cricket played on Eden Park no.2 as it's too small and that boat drifted off into the distance when the short-sighted calamity of the Eden Park upgrade went down. What are the other options? Well a Test cricket venue at Western Springs seems like the best bet as it's central and already has that grassy aesthetic to it. This obviously means that Speedway would need to make way, a bummer for them but there's no reason why Speedway can't benefit from an upgrade and a move elsewhere.

Colin Maiden? Meh, there's not much wiggle room there. 

If anyone is willing to head further south or west, then there's plenty of empty space outside of the central Auckland bubble. However, given that people view Penrose and Mt Smart as too much of a mission to get to or a 'horrible industrial area' (gimme a fucking break you jaffa twats) it's hard to see a move south or west gaining traction. Personally, if Western Springs can't be done, then I would love to see a Test cricket ground with personality and vibrancy built on Auckland's periphery. 

Otherwise, with Seddon Park in Hamilton and Cobham Oval in Whangarei epitomising the kiwi cricket ground, I'm happy taking day trips north or south to watch cricket at these venues. If Auckland doesn't sort their shit out and doesn't get Test cricket for any period of time, I'd take great joy in supporting Seddon Park for example ... as long as you H-Town soldiers can welcome me and other Aucklanders. I'd rather watch Test cricket at Seddon Park than Eden Park every day of the week.

Auckland is currently knee-deep in an absolute shambles with regards to its sporting stadiums and is in danger of becoming a sporting wasteland as other centres around Aotearoa showcase common sense and creativity. Without being too harsh, those who have had any part to play in this mess should be rather embarrassed. Instead of being Aotearoa's sporting hub, Auckland is now a sorry example of what not to do.