Duncan Garner and Auckland Councillor Wayne Walker clash over Western Springs Speedway's future

Auckland Councillor Wayne Walker has clashed with The AM Show's Duncan Garner over the future of Western Springs Speedway.

Speedway has been told its lease at Western Springs won't be renewed, spurring anger from organiser Bill Buckley who believed the Council was interested in maintaining the sport's future in Auckland.

Mr Buckley believed Speedway would be moved to a new home at Colin Dale Park, but that deal was only a memorandum of understanding with no guarantees.

Now, Auckland Councillor John Watson and Mr Walker have written to Mayor Phil Goff in support of the sport staying at Western Springs.

"John Watson, my fellow councillor, and I have sent a letter to Phil Goff because we are very disappointed about the move that Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) has made to force Speedway out of Western Springs. That's unfair," said Mr Walker.

The Speedway may be replaced at Western Springs by a cricket complex costing nearly $100 million.

"They've told us that they want to spend $91 million on a facility for New Zealand cricket, not Auckland cricket, at Western Springs," said Mr Walker.

Garner reckoned Speedway could easily move to another location, like Waikaraka Park, but Mr Walker disagreed.

"No they can't go to Waikaraka Park. No way should they be forced out right now with nowhere to go," he said.

"Waikaraka Park is for saloons. Waikaraka Park needs money too and council needs to look after Waikaraka Park."

The AM Show Host also reckoned the potential Colin Dale Park location in Wiri was a good idea as it is close to the airport, but Mr Walker was adamant Western Springs is the right spot.

"Oh come on, this is the problem with Auckland. There is always some little group that gets in the way of progress," said Garner.

But Mr Walker said more needed to be done by RFA and council before any decision was made.

"The first thing that we need to do is that we need to see business cases. I have not seen any business case of New Zealand cricket at Western Springs," said Mr Walker.

Garner asked if the Councillor just had a problem with it becoming a cricket ground.

"I'm wrapped about cricket. Cricket is a great game, but Council does not have a lot of money," said Mr Walker.

"That $91 million plus the operation costs likely associated with [the cricket complex], that could be spent on netball, on football, on hockey, on rugby, on any number of codes and activities.

"We, that is the public of Auckland, should be seeing options for speedway to stay at Western Springs."

Again Garner reckoned Mr Walker was "anti-cricket", but he said the code could be played in many other locations like the Auckland Domain or even Colin Dale Park.

"What is wrong with Eden Park?" said Mr Walker.

"It is the best location in Auckland for closeness to public transport, rail station, the massive amount of money we are spending on city rail, and Eden Park is literally just across the road."

The future of Speedway won't be decided until a council meeting in April while Auckland's wider stadium strategy is considered. That includes looking at the future of Eden Park, which is struggling with debt and the cost of development needed to bring it up to scratch for major events.

Mr Walker said he believes council will end up supporting the stadium.

"Phil Goff knows that and all of the councillors know that, and I would suggest they have all accepted that," he said.

"Phil is making all the right noises about Eden Park, and later on this month, on the 19th, the Council has got an item where, I would suggest, we will be entering a partnership with Eden Park and helping them to stay for their long-term survival."

Mr Walker said the latest venue development strategy supported Eden Park being retained.


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