New Zealand Rugby
Eden Park set for name change
December 28, 2008
Eden Park is currently undergoing a massive NZm transformation © Getty Images
New Zealand's iconic Eden Park stadium is set for a name change ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in a bid to meet a NZ$12m shortfall in the ground re-vamp budget.
The owners of the Auckland stadium have reportedly engaged consultants in London and Melbourne to establish the worth of the ground's naming rights ahead of the sport's next global showpiece when it will host several games including the opening match and the final.
The ground is currently being redeveloped and upgraded to a capacity of 60,000, from 47,500, to meet the conditions for staging the tournament but Adam Feeley, the chief executive of the development project, confirmed yesterday that there are budgetary concerns and all commercial opportunities are being investigated including naming rights.
"We'll get some idea of the value early next year and go to the market late in 2009," Feeley told the Sunday Star Times.
Construction has been blighted by problems such as rising concrete and steel prices that have strained an already limited budget.
"Every time we needed to strike rock to build foundations on, it wasn't there," Feeley said. "Then every time we needed rock not to be there, it was.
"A year ago we'd hoped that with a nice tail wind and a few breaks going our way we might have sufficient room to add a few things into the design like a roof on the east stand. But realistically the way the building challenges are going, we will do everything we planned to do, but we won't have any spare money left over to spend on extras.
"From functionality point of view there have been [no compromises]," he said. "All the key design features are still there. But we have to be really vigilant with cost such as high spec interiors. It's a fine line between the poshest carpet and expensive finish in bar and lounge areas. You can blow a budget in that area pretty quickly while at the same time you don't want to cut everything to the bone. So we're being careful. The project certainly won't be lavish. But I think we will get good value for money without compromising on form and function."
Park designers have decided to scrap plans to build a transport hub on Eden Park's outer oval, which will have a significant impact on game-day traffic.
"A year ago Eden Park was the No 1 issue for the tournament organisers. I wouldn't say it's off the radar but I sense they are now dealing with bigger issues," added Feeley, "Eden Park is quietly fading into the background, and that's the way we like it."
Elsewhere in New Zealand, regions are revamping their stadiums. In Napier the eastern site of McLean Park is under construction and in Christchurch a NZ$60 million stand is being built. AMI Stadium's capacity will be boosted to more than 40,000 and it will host two quarter-finals.