Eden Park should not become a political football

The Government should stop acting like a sore loser over its waterfront stadium folly, and should agree to meet any financial shortfall involved in readying Eden Park for the 2011 World Cup, Green Party Sports Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“It would be unacceptable for the Government to push any extra cost burden onto the Auckland Regional Council, which is already sensibly putting millions into the public transport solutions that are just as essential to the Cup being a success for the city, and for its visitors,” Mr Locke says.

“Eden Park after all, was the designated site when the World Cup contract was signed. The Prime Minister flew half way around the world to signify that New Zealand’s bid had Government backing.

“Moreover, the Government was willing to put far more millions of taxpayer funds at risk with their loopy stadium on the waterfront, via a monopoly contract whose details had not even been tied down before the Government was willing to commit to a timetable.

“Compared to the waterfront stadium, the Eden Park option is less risky, and less expensive. For the Government to now drag its feet and attempt to push the costs involved onto the ARC smacks of sour grapes and an attempt to punish the ARC for sinking Trevor Mallard’s pet project.

“Furthermore, any lasting hassles over who is to pay for the Eden Park upgrade could easily entangle the World Cup preparations with the Government’s wider plans for restructuring local government in Auckland.

“Eden Park should not be allowed to become a political football. Instead, the Government should seize the great opportunity that the 2011 Rugby World Cup offers to Auckland and the nation, and invest in upgrading Eden Park, and in the public transport system that will help make the Eden Park venue successful.”