By The Spotter
I think we’ve been carted around this fantasy before: Auckland and it’s big, beautiful and empty dream of a waterfront stadium.
Not that Kev Cowcocky in Dunsandel will probably give a fat rats what happens up here, but there is a way to begin turning all the past and endless pontifications on the subject into a literal concrete reality. And that is by employing a bit of the good old Kiwi number eight wire, can-do approach to raising the necessary funds to get the flaming thing at least underway. Because everyone has had an absolute gutsful of all the crying wolf and consultants walking off with a small fortune. It’s got to be now, or not in our lifetimes. And desperate times do call for desperate measures.
The main obstacle above and beyond any other is surely cost and consent and its associated barriers; council (and government) and constituents’ and ratepayers’ approval. But don’t hold your breath for that to be granted very soon- it’s more likely we’ll be leading a chorus of ‘Lily the Pink’ in a aged care facility by the time it’s all approved.
But what if nearly all of the money needed for at least the first few building stages could be gleaned exclusively from interested and vested corporates (or individuals)? And dangle some nice, juicy carrots to really make it worth their while. This city surely has enough private wealth stashed in its pockets to finance something. And just think- if some of it were previously ill-gotten, whoever gives it for the stadium can finally feel they are doing something good.
For starters, give any who put in, say, over one and a half million smackers a free or heavily-discounted corporate box for a length of time measured pro-rata by donation. As a rough guide, a couple of mill might get you unfettered use of a corporate box for around six months, whereas a ten million plus layout would guarantee at least two seasons worth of free access. And dole out plenty of ticket freebies for the first year or so to sweeten the deal a bit more. (Acts that are, I guess, probably nothing new). The biggest relief in the discussions so far is that the mayor actually wants a stadium built. Thank goodness, at least that hazard is out of the way (it’s just a turn of phrase).
But the point is, to magnify the above. Do whatever it takes short of corruption to get to the end goal. Making all processes completely above board by announcing every single major decision to the media would negate any temptation for any clandestine deals and importantly, gain genuine public backing for the project. And make sure to emphasise all the types of events that would be staged there, not only sporting ones. Add on an Expo centre if the budget allows.
If the you-scratch-my-back etc process is transparent enough, the non-reactive portion of the general public may warm to it. And be more biddable in knowing their rate-paying dollars are being saved for more essential infrastructure (by dint of the big dollop of the money for the build coming out of private sources/entities). Otherwise, petty jealousies and whinging all night will ensure the spaceship never leaves the ground.
Sell the stadium idea nationally. Market the construction of it as something of genuine national significance. It must have a retractable roof, too- that is non-negotiable. Give assurances or at least make genuine promises to potential down country investors that there will always be a decent quota of seating blocks available for out-of-towners coming up for big events. Tell the ticketing companies that this is the way it will work. And make them develop a tool in their online process to ensure this can happen- God knows they make enough money already. A bit of ethics in ticket sales would be quite refreshing (Ok, so this particular idea may be unfeasible- or would it?)
And talk nicely to Leanne and Megan et al down in Christchurch; they just might let us see their proper, mandated blueprints for their proposed state-of-the-art stadium. Because up here we are rather prone to doing idiotic things like making Harbour Bridges that originally just have a two-lane crossing. Investing in rail about thirty-five years too late. And, oh I almost forgot, seven years ago laying on about twenty trains less than required for all those celebrating a Rugby World Cup opening ceremony in their home city- resulting in untold stress and a fair amount of heartache for people and families who had been looking forward to that night for years. Thanks for nothing on that Council, by the way. it’s still raw, even all these years later. All AT managers involved should have done the decent thing and resigned en masse for that gigantic balls-up.
People say Auckland isn’t a bona-fide sports city. That people will stay away once the novelty wears off. To some extent possibly so, but the stadium will no doubt be designed to cater for dozens of other large-scale events. Sport should factor in only as a sum of its parts. In any case, what other cities in the western world apart from Melbourne, and at a pinch New York and Boston, are true sports cities?
Hell; even the Blues might become contenders again if they had a shiny new dome to play in. Let’s get the show on the road once and for all.