As Aucklanders grapple with whether or not to build a billion dollar waterfront stadium, Taranaki authorities have their own decisions to make on the future of the district’s number one sporting venue.
New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium has been out of action for most of the year after being assessed an earthquake risk.
And while the ground remains the number one choice for the location of the sports stadium, the future of the facility is yet to be determined and much may hinge on a engineering report due in February that will determine whether the stands can be rebuilt or repaired.
Taranaki Rugby Union (TRU) boss Jeremy Parkinson said Yarrow Stadium remained the spiritual home of the rugby in the province but any decision to go somewhere else would be guided by the Taranaki Regional Council and the Taranaki Stadium Trust.
“We’re happy where we are, a fully operational Yarrow Stadium is the best venue, and it has the best lights.
“People talk about other options but there’s a timeframe around Yarrow Stadium, and it’s already consented so a “fix” is the easiest option.”
A Forsyth Barr-type covered arena would be “wonderful,” he said.
“But who pays for it?”
But if a decision has to be made to find an alternative site, where could a multi purpose, covered-in, sports stadium be built in the region?
Could a waterfront stadium be sited on reclaimed land near Ngamotu Beach?
Or would a multi-purpose venue at the New Plymouth’s Pukekura Raceway, or enlarging the sports area at Hickford Park, Bell Block, or Pukekura Park be a better choice?
And if community support is required how about Rahotu Domain, the spiritual rugby home of the Barrett family?
Stuff ran the rule over five other options, some logical, some left field, and asked some in the know what their thoughts were.
Ngamotu Beach: A waterfront stadium at New Plymouth’s safest beach would likely meet a lot of opposition.
It’s a popular beach but the Port Taranaki owned site is handy to rail links to transport fans, and there is an exciting new development planned featuring cafes, bars and apartments in the former Fonterra cool stores.
“We would definitely be open to the idea but it could be a case of how much, and who pays – it will be expensive,” Jeremy Parkinson said.
The cost would be high if construction meant drilling foundations through volcanic rock, a New Plymouth civil engineer said.
Verdict: Nice idea but not a goer.
Pukekura Park, New Plymouth:
The country’s most picturesque cricket ground already has a history of hosting sports events and it could be enlarged and redeveloped to host a double header weekend featuring a Black Caps day nighter with Womad.
Verdict: A dead duck.
Pukekura Raceway, New Plymouth:
Plenty of room to build a multi-purpose venue in the middle of the racetrack and the TRU are already using facilities there.
“It is central, within walking distance of the city, and there is room for training fields,” Parkinson said.
Verdict: A possibility.
Hickford Park, Bell Block:
Sports facilities are already in place although much work would be needed to build a stadium.
The ground underneath is softer to build on than Ngamotu but could see an Eden Park scenario with residents unhappy having large scale events in their backyard.
Verdict: Another possibility if residents can be persuaded.
Rahotu Domain, South Taranaki:
A rural club rugby ground surrounded by cows and hawthorn hedge shelter belts with spectacular views of the Tasman Sea, and Mt Taranaki.
“Awesome,” said Coastal Rugby club captain Bryan Kettlewell.
“There would be a fair bit of work to do because there are two levels at the ground,” he said.
Verdict: Loses out for not being close to New Plymouth but would draw strong support from the rural community.
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