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GUNDRY'S GRUMBLES with Simon Gundry

It's time for a change

Simon Gundry is a Devonport and North Shore identity, and character, who is known for calling a spade a spade. He is a director of contracting company Gill & Gundry, is an enthusiastic and active sailor (past crew-member of Ceramco New Zealand and Lion New Zealand in Whitbread Round The World races and Shockwave in Admiral’s Cup) and is a life member of the North Shore Rugby Football Club. This is his regular and lively contribution to Channel Magazine..

I’ve just had a friend come back from overseas; he’d not been back for quite a few years. Obviously he has made a lot of money over the last decade or so.
I took him to a Blues game at Eden Park. While he was in London he spent many weekends following his local football team, and of course making the pilgrimage to watch the Six Nation games and of course the All Blacks when they were in town. We walked to the Devonport Ferry from home, ferried into town and travelled on the train, which broke down at Newmarket. We waited 40 minutes and the train got going again, and we disembarked at Kingsland and walked to the Park. We watched the game, and then post game the effort to get back into Devonport was just diabolical. As I said a couple of months ago in this column, its time for a change.
I read last month in the Royal NZ Herald and heard on the local radio of plans to move the Speedway out of Western Springs and into Mt Smart where it would have to cohabit with the Warriors. What a joke this would be. I wonder if any of these faceless people at the Auckland Council actually consult with the stakeholders of these sports to see what they need and what they want. Another plan is to play the big Warriors’ games at Eden Park; this I can see would result in having to go through huge amounts of Resource Consents meetings, because at the moment they can only play limited games at the park according to the current Resource consent.
A great friend of mine, Ronnie Gibbons, a block laying contractor from southern Auckland, has been a number one Warriors’ fan since their inception in 1995. Ronnie has Warriors’ colours flowing in his blood. Ron even bought his Mum her own special seat at Mt Smart Stadium as she also is a great Warriors’ fan. They have both told me they won’t come to Eden Park to watch the Warriors play, as it’s a different environment. Eden Park is a Rugby ground and Mt Smart is League. He has nothing against rugby, and I’ve sat with Ronnie on many occasions at All Black tests over the years. Once and for all I think our City fathers should sort out this Stadium problem. If I was in charge of the City, this is what would happen:
The Speedway would remain at Western Springs, where it has been for umpteen years. That is the home of Speedway in Auckland. Ronnie Gibbons’ beloved Warriors would live at Ericsson Stadium, in a new purpose built stadium for them. Eden Park would be demolished, turned into a retirement village, to be known as Eden Park Retirement Village, and the Sir Fred Allen Stadium would be built on the waterfront at the old tank farm. This would be an under cover, purpose built rugby field with a capacity of 45,000. Anyone worried about transport to this ground, would be happy to hear that I would also increase the ferry sailings on the night of the big games, there’d be a helicopter pad at the end of the Stadium to be known as the Kim Dotcom/John Banks helicopter pad, and there would be ample trains running at Britomart and buses from all corners of Auckland.
On match night, people could make their way into the city and dine at one of the many restaurants at either the Viaduct, the Britomart area or the Wynyard Quarter and walk to the game inside ten minutes. I believe this could all be funded by the Auckland Casino as the stadium could double as a convention centre, which they are planning to spend $350 million on anyway. The Casino would be paying for the whole stadium to be built as the proposed convention centre would be located within the Stadium. As, in my thinking Stadiums are only used maybe 20 times a year, the Sir Fred Allen Stadium would be one of the first in the world to be a purpose built stadium and convention centre combined. It could also be used for rock concerts, and of course when the Willie Nelson band comes to town.
Of course you are thinking now, how the punters are going to get from the Casino in Hobson St to the Sir Fred Allen Stadium and Convention Centre on the waterfront. This of course will be very easily done with an extension of the already partly constructed tram system up Hobson St, which currently lends a certain elegance to the area, to the Casino and of course the Sir Dove Myer Robinson rapid rail sky loop to and from the Hobson Street Casino to the waterfront. This whole budget would be paid for by the Auckland Casino, who would run the entire complex, the negotiations would be undertaken over a couple of days with the right people, construction could be started in early January 2013 for the Stadium Convention Centre, with a build time frame of 18 months. The demolition of Eden Park could start the day after the first rugby game at the new Stadium. The entire project would be funded by the Auckland Casino with absolutely no buy in of any ratepayers’ money.
That’s my thoughts for the month!

by Simon Gundry