Simon Bridges dismisses Auckland stadium talk as 'weird'

National leader Simon Bridges says it's a "weird" time to be thinking about a downtown stadium for Auckland.

The long-mooted project is back in the headlines after Auckland Mayor Phil Goff revealed the council and the Government are in talks for a new stadium, potentially costing up to $1.5 billion.

While that's about twice what it would cost to upgrade Eden Park, a downtown venue wouldn't face the same noise and transport constraints as it wouldn't be located in the middle of a residential area.

"We need to plan for the future," Mr Goff told NZME. "It's about what we want Auckland and New Zealand to look like in 10, 20, 30 years' time."

In 2006 the previous Labour Government offered to put $500 million towards a waterfront stadium. While the then-Auckland City Council was in favour, the Auckland Regional Council voted no, and the venue - which would have been the centrepiece for the 2011 Rugby World Cup - was never built.

Mr Bridges told The AM Show on Monday the latest developments are "very strange".

"These guys... they want new taxes, both the council and the Government, on Aucklanders. And then they're all saying, 'But by the way, we've got enough money for that.'

"I don't think a stadium's a bad thing - a long-term strategy is fine - but a weird priority right at the moment."

Eden Park.
Eden Park. Photo credit: Photosport

Mr Goff actually admits he can't "magic up" $1.5 billion, and it would require significant private investment. He says New Zealand will need a new stadium to replace the aging Eden Park by the time it hosts another major international sporting event, like the Commonwealth Games or Rugby World Cup.

But Mr Bridges doesn't think it's important.

"We've got bigger, better priorities."


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