Could an underwater stadium be Auckland’s A-League lifesaver?

Nick Symonds Roar Rookie

By Nick Symonds, Nick Symonds is a Roar Rookie

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    It might sound like a crazy idea, but it might just happen.

    Proposals for a new stadium in Auckland began in 2006 during the run-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but nothing eventuated at the time.

    Instead, Eden Park was upgraded at a cost of $256 million to make it the centrepiece venue of the tournament.

    Eden Park is currently Auckland’s largest stadium, but it is old and in need of constant upgrades and maintenance estimated to cost $250 million over the next 15 years, assuming work remains on budget.

    These ongoing costs, along with accessibility, are the main factors driving another push to build a new stadium in Auckland.

    Previous plans for a downtown stadium on Auckland’s waterfront were brought undone by height restrictions on buildings to avoid blocking sightlines of the harbour.

    This has led to an amazing design by New Zealand architect Phil O’Reilly to build a stadium below the water line of the harbour.

    While it sounds outlandish, there have been other large-scale projects built below water level, and in engineering terms, building the caisson won’t be much different from building a really big swimming pool, except you’re trying to keep the water out rather than in.

    It’s even getting serious attention from world leading consultancy BuroHappold Engineering, who worked on London’s Olympic Stadium.

    Partner at BuroHappold Engineering, Matthew Birchall said of the design concept, “There is a real potential with this solution to create a modern colosseum of sport and entertainment that would enable a unique experience for the spectators and players alike, and which could generate a truly unique atmosphere.

    “We would love to work with the stakeholders in Auckland to realise a new stadium development that would be a catalyst for the city’s ongoing social and economic development. The city’s and the professional sports clubs needs could work very well together – creating an active and iconic venue that inspires a generation.”

    The design itself comes in several variations. No roof, with roof, one with cruise ship terminals on either side and a final design built inland.

    There’s still a lot of bureaucracy to go through, but if it comes into being, it will certainly be iconic. Having that kind of a stadium as a venue featured in the A-League would generate plenty of attention.

    Whether that’s enough of a reason for FFA to consider giving Auckland an A-League team I don’t know. But at least it looks good.

    What do you think, could an iconic stadium like ‘The Crater’ help Auckland’s chances of having an A-League team?