How to save Auckland’s stadium shemozzle
The final part in Brian Finn's stadium trilogy: 'What we have is unacceptable; what we could have is surprisingly achievable.'
In the third of a three-part series, former New Zealand Rugby comms chief and stadium adviser Brian Finn attempts to outline a workable solution for Auckland’s less than fantastic stadium infrastructure. Grab a coffee, get comfortable...
In September 2020, I was sitting on the couch watching an early-season NFL game – my Chicago Bears were playing the Los Angeles Rams at the Rams’ new home field, SoFi Stadium. The result is unimportant – I am choosing to ignore it along with many other Bears’ losses in recent seasons.
As I was intently watching there was a beautiful shot of the stadium’s exterior façade. My lovely wife, walking behind the couch (and probably rolling her eyes at the weekly diet of NFL commentary returning to the house), asked why they were showing a new airport on the screen? No, honey. That’s not an airport, it’s a football stadium. In fact, it’s the most expensive stadium ever built. And it is magnificent!
“Oh,” she said, “why can’t we have a stadium like that?”
And that is the billion dollar question It’s actually US$5.5 billion in the case of LA’s new stadium but you get the picture.
My other half isn’t alone in envying LA’s sparkly new venue. New Zealand Herald columnist Matt Heath was drooling and sweating (best you read his column) during a recent visit to the Rams and Chargers’ new stadium. As he noted: “Americans do live sports brilliantly. Sofi and Dodgers stadiums are wonders to behold.”
So, as Plato once famously never pondered: Why can’t we do good stadia?
Australia can. Singapore can. Hong Kong can. Canada can. Ireland can. The Brits can’t keep their Prime Ministers entertained long enough to deliver anything, but they managed to fund and build Wembley Stadium, an Olympic Stadium and the swanky new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London, as well as many other football and rugby ground upgrades.
Yes, money is an issue and I’ll get to that, but as I pontificated in a previous column, the big picture is we Kiwis are crap at infrastructure.