International cricket threat may force move to Western Springs

Auckland faces being frozen out as an international cricket venue unless the sport's given a new home.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has thrown its support behind a plan released by Regional Facilities Auckland - and backed by all major sporting codes - that includes a proposed move for the summer game to Western Springs.

But failure to implement the plan comes with a warning...

The Blackcaps made history in March with victory over England in the country's first ever day night test.

But NZC has effectively turned out the lights on the concept returning to Eden Park.

"It was a challenge from a financial point of view," says chief executive David White. "It is a massive undertaking to play a test match at such a large ground.

"We won't be doing that in the near future."

White says high costs mean only the highest profile T20 and one-day matches would be staged at Eden Park in future. 

And it means Auckland could miss out when New Zealand hosts the ICC Women's World Cup in 2021.

"We have to look at that closely," says White. "We need a venue with lights, but a venue that's cost effective as well."

The answer lies in re-developing Western Springs as a venue for international cricket - part of a venue development strategy released by Regional Facilities Auckland.

"Western Springs would be perfect," says White

The RFA strategy includes two options for winter codes - a brand new stadium in the city or a redeveloped Eden Park - but even those with emotional ties to the ground want a move.

"We made a mistake in 2011," says former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry. "We should have built that stadium then.

"We need a covered stadium, we need it in the city, we need it next to the restaurants and bars.

"Let's build it tomorrow."

But that view's not shared by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"There's some limitations around Eden Park, but this is not high on our agenda at all," she says.

"It's probably not an immediate priority in the next 10 years for council or central Government.

That's cricket's cue to separate itself from future discussions - forging ahead with plans for a new home away from Eden Park.