Player facilities at Eden Park being made gender-neutral ahead of major sporting events

Player facilities at Auckland's Eden Park are being made gender-neutral as part of an upgrade ahead of several major sporting tournaments.

The venue will host Rugby World Cup 2021, the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup next year and is a proposed stadium for matches during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023.

Minister for Sport Grant Robertson announced on Tuesday that player facilities in Eden Park's West and South stands will be upgraded with accessible showers, toilets and baby change tables to make them gender neutral and of a high quality. They'll be completed by the time Australian, Indian, New Zealand and England cricket teams arrive in March next year.

"This funding is about modernising and improving the facilities for the world’s best women’s players across all three major events," Robertson said in a statement. "These facilities will also benefit the domestic and international players who more regularly use Eden Park."

"The upgrade at Eden Park and the five ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 match venues will improve the future experience of women and girls and provides an example of what good inclusivity looks like for everyone using the changing facilities regardless of gender, helping reduce barriers to participation."

Black Fern Carla Hohepa told Newshub that many changing rooms around the country are currently "outdated" and not female-friendly. She's hoping to see more privacy in cubicles and an environment that is welcoming to mothers and trans athletes. 

"We are looking forward to the changes that come, especially for the female athletes and also looking forward to the three women's world cups that are going to be held here in New Zealand. We are looking forward to the change and we just can't wait to feel like we are welcome in the changing rooms as well."

The investment of $1.71 million is part of $9.84 million allocated for World Cup accessible venues. That comes from the Government's $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced in last year's Budget.