Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Ellington Stadium

I apologise for this interruption in your normal service but an urgent matter has arisen. Trevor Mallard wants my opinion; yours as well, if you are an Aucklander. We must help Trevor decide. He has two options for a stadium in which to host the Rugby World Cup - refurbishing the old one at Eden Park or building a new one on the port. You might think that he could use one of the other stadia which litter the Auckland region but apparently not. It seems that none of these are good enough to host the Rugby World Cup, which is so important that we must spend half a billion dollars to provide a suitable venue. We have less than two weeks to make our choices known to Trevor (hint: he wants us to choose the new one).

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:

Do nothing

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:

Stuff the Rugby World Cup

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."


noizy said...

stuff the final at least.

just fly everyone to Aussie...

Anonymous said...

The Do Nothing option would appear to be the optimum.

Bur referring to your words:

"You might think that he could use one of the other stadia which litter the Auckland region but apparently not"

If we must move off Eden Park, what about MT SMART STADIUM?

It was deemed suitable for a Commonwealth Games. It seems to be popular for loud musical acts so no major noise gripes.

It is central to the isthmus, and convenient to Southern Motorway for any interested people travelling from populated areas to the south!

Apart from that it is a nice amphitheatre setting with all the mana to be a national stadium if Trevor wants to call it such.

Regarding CARLAW..
Why are 9 city councillors advocating this when Rugby League saw fit to move out of their to Mt Smart?

But speaking of Council generally..
They are obsessed with the Waterfront. That bleak and inhospitable strip of coast that we all love to avoid. Guys .. there are also suburbs in Auckland you know!

Anonymous said...

At first the idea of the 2011 Rugby World Cup enough to make my genitals jump right up into my body, but then I realized that when, in 2011, the country fills with food, beer and prostitute hungry rugby heads, I am under no obligation take part or stick around.
And if I do choose to leave, I can sublet my flat to whatever poor jerk is willing to pay through the nose for a place to stay once he discovers that all available accommodation in the venue cities will have been completely booked out by 2009.
I'm sure that the extortionate sums of money I'll be able to charge in rent will be more than enough to make me feel better about the potential for food, beer or prostitute stains on my chaise lounge.

Paul said...

I was about to congratulate you on not calling it the Ericsson Stadium, instead using its pre-sponsorship name. But I went to the website and saw that it is no longer the Ericsson Stadium. This is a great day for me.

Unfortunately, we still have the Vodafone Warriors.

Anonymous said...

Haha I take it you're not a huge rugby fan Paul? I do think you've got a good point though. It sucks when tourists buy our wine and beef instead of our Rakon chips and Navman gadgets.

And you know I've been thinking a bit more about the topic in general, about how the government spends our money, and I've been wondering just what we get from sick people...

Stuff the Sick People!

We should move our country's healthy population into a few extremely high density mega-buildings (I believe in Sim City these were called Arcs?) where their every want and need would be looked after - as I also propose we spend the Health budget each year on buying food, beer and prostitutes for the New Zealand populace. Rather than being a one-time boost like that stupid World Cup, this spending would continue every year. As would the good times.

Economic theory tells us that few people will worry about the Knowledge Economy if the supply of prostitutes was increased this dramatically. (And hopefully the quality too.)

Anonymous said...

I understand that the Maori name for Mt Smart is Rarotonga. We could call the stadium that and as a spinoff boost tourism in the Cook Islands as well - as confused rugby fans set off in the wrong direction.

Rugby is a product. International Rugby is now a business that employees staff to entertain corporate audiences and to provide promotional outlets for sponsors of consumer products.

Tax them! Don't fund them!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't think about it like that.

Products are no good.

I heard they bring out poor little Maori kids at half time at Jade Stadium, and people who've spent enough money on McDonalds and Coca Cola and Adidas products during the game are each allowed to shoot one.

If you hit it in the belly button you win a trip to abuse stray cats from the SPCA with Trevor Mallard. It's all expenses paid and apparently you get put up in this real cool hotel in Wellington where rock stars have stayed!!!

It would be cooler if you got to go to Rarotonga though.

Paul said...

Stuff writing about religion. At least people comment when I talk about the stadium.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

It isn't just about swindling beer-swilling, prostitute-clienting poms out of their pounds sterling, Paul, it's about putting us on the map so we can punch above our weight on the world stage per capita. Y'know, the world stage that we're always punching above our weight on? Well, this is a prime opportunity to punch away, hopefully above our weight! If we can do that it will really put us on the map. We'll have the best Rugby World Cup per capita.

Anonymous said...

Helen wants to divert us from the real issues, don't fall for it just vote no.

You've got to hand it to her she is brillient isn't she.
push a button and the kiwis just flop around over crap.

Anonymous said...


Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard got their timing a little astray. Don Brash pushed them off the front page by trying to stop a book being published! And then dammit, he resigned the day before the decision was to be made. Congratulations to Don Brash, he upstaged Dick Hubbard and Trevor Mallard in a way that must have had every true Nat applauding.

Even funnier was Ian Wishart and Investigate Magazine. He launched a fizzer about David Benson-Pope, presumably to take the focus away from Don Brash. However the Stadium and the amazing Brash developments kept Wishart right out of the spotlight - into the darkness where he belongs.

I wonder what WISHART thinks of the Brash idea of free condoms for women 16-35? Brash the hero - with a policy that not even the extreme left would have thought of.