Refurbishing the old stadium at Eden Park would seem to be a good idea, particularly because Eden Park is already a stadium where rugby is played, while the new stadium is mostly water at the moment. However, Trevor doesn't seem to like this idea. He keeps coming up with reasons not to do it. He says that building a new stadium would cost no more than sprucing up the old one, which seems difficult to believe. He thinks Eden Park is too much an Auckland stadium, so he wants to build a new stadium and call it Stadium New Zealand or Stadium Aotearoa New Zealand (it will probably end up being called the ANZ Stadium anyway - what usually happens is loads of public money is spent on a project and then some corporate sponsor gets the naming rights).
So what Trevor wants to do is to spend half a billion dollars on building a new stadium, which has to be ready in five years. At least it is largely a green field site; well, not quite: it is largely an underwater site. Still, Trevor thinks he can build a new stadium on two wharves separated by a body of water in less than five years for not much more than it would cost to refurbish a perfectly good stadium just up the road.
I think I can claim some expertise in this area. I am not an architect nor an urban planner but I used to play Sim City all the time. If you are not familiar with this area of activity, Sim City is a computer game in which you build cities. If your city is well planned, you attract citizens; if not, they go away: areas of your city go dark and fall into disrepair.
I don't think Trevor has played Sim City. If he had, he would know that spending huge amounts of money on a sports stadium and then putting it in the middle of your port area is really, really stupid. Not only do you break your budget on the building costs and lose revenue from your port but nobody will come to your stadium because it is in an industrial area.
Trevor really, really wants to go ahead with this really, really stupid idea but he says it is up to us to decide. He says we have a choice. We do not. We have a dilemma. Trevor has presented us with two options. One is really stupid but Trevor wants to do it. The other seems sensible but apparently has some problems.
There is a third option which Trevor has not suggested we consider. Here it is:
Radical isn't it? Breathtaking in its simplicity. If you are not convinced, read it again and give it some thought. Here it is again: do nothing.
I have no artist's impression for this option, no watercolour drawings or CGI. I have not done a scoping study, an environmental impact assessment or a cost-benefit analysis. I have not consulted local iwi. I have no projected completion date for this option, because there is nothing to start. I can guarantee that it will not be finished on time; nor will it be delayed. There will be no cost overruns, because there will be no costs.
Now, you might be thinking: "all well and good, but what about the Rugby World Cup?" Here is my second idea of the morning and it is almost as simple as the first:
Even more radical, isn't it? In case you think this concept is a little too far outside the square, let me explain it to you. If the International Rugby Board want to hold a World Cup here and Adidas are happy for them to do it, then all well and good. Let them get on with it. They can play at Eden Park or at Jade Stadium, which is almost a hundred years newer and is in Christchurch, which is a nice city in a nice part of New Zealand where rugby is very popular. If this is not good enough for them and none of the other stadia in New Zealand will do for them, then they can play it in Australia... or Argentina... or Canada.
I expect you think you can see a flaw in this plan. You are thinking that holding the World Cup in New Zealand is a good idea because it will bring in lots of money when all those rugby fans go on wild spending sprees. Maybe so, but what are they going to spend their money on? Here is my prediction: food, beer, prostitutes. Not exactly the Knowledge Economy is it? And when they all go home, the spending is finished. Sales of rubber johnnies will return to pre-Cup levels.
If Trevor had his way, we would be left with a big sports stadium which would bankrupt us unless we kept it busy with other activities. I know what you are thinking: we could get the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to play; or Tool. Yes, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Or maybe we could just keep it available in case aliens visit from another planet and want somewhere to address the leaders of the World.
Call me Ishmael but I suggest the best name for Trevor's waterfront folly would be Stadium Moby Dick. The name would symbolise its origins in the sea and how it rises out of the depths to destroy us for our pride and vainglory.
On the other leg, the one which is not wooden, my bold new concept for a non-stadium could be called the Ellington Stadium: "do nothing till you hear from me - and you never will."