Today the Hutt City Council announced plans for a new boutique football specific sports stadium based at the current Petone Recreation site.
While the Wellington Phoenix has at this stage only made a conditional commitment to moving to the proposed arena, Wellington Phoenix Chairman Rob Morrison and co-owner Dr Gareth Morgan said today that it is an exciting proposal that could deliver a fan centric and financially attractive model that is vital to securing the on-going financial viability of the Club.
“A purpose built football stadium has to be an attractive proposition for the Phoenix and although there are clearly a number of hurdles to be overcome, this is a proposal the Phoenix is keen to support” Morrison says.
“The Phoenix’s number one stated objective from day one has been to make the club financially viable so as to leave a legacy for football in New Zealand.
“Any proposition that could make a material difference to the financial stability of the club has to be taken seriously.
“Westpac Stadium is a great ground for big crowd games but when the club is only averaging 7,000 to 8,000 crowds, then financially Westpac Stadium doesn’t work.”
Dr Morgan says by changing to a stadium with a lower cost structure and one that has the ability to deliver an unrivalled fan experience, it will enable the Club to play more games overall in Wellington.
“We have to re-invent the game-day experience for fans and the start of that process is an arena fit for purpose, where the fans get up close and personal to the action with a ground tailored to the needs of a football audience.
“We must follow the modern day trend for football stadia internationally which shows the successful ones are intimate and designed to really amplify the fan experience.
“Only by building a 12,000-15,000 seat football specific stadium with state of the art technology will the fans turn up in sufficient numbers to safeguard the financial viability of the Club long term.
“This new arena promises this and while there is a lot more work to be done, we’d be crazy not to investigate the potential further”.
Besides a match day venue, the project plan includes a children’s play areas and it will be structured to allow community groups to be part of the arena experience with food stalls and entertainment.
The Petone site is attractive as a development for its excellent transport hubs – it has two adjacent train stations and there’s plans for a Tawa to Petone road link – but also due to a number of valuable partnerships situated nearby.
Weltec, which sits next door to the site, offers potential education opportunities for the Club and Capital Football’s Memorial Park venue is just down the road – an important component of the amateur game in this region.
If the proposed arena goes ahead and the Phoenix can reach agreement on a partnership model, Dr Morgan says that Westpac Stadium will still play an important role as a Phoenix venue.
“Our on-going relationship with Westpac Stadium is critical for us.
“Our plan as a club is to dominate the A League and as we realise that ambition we will be getting more and more finals-type games in Wellington as well as visiting overseas clubs.
Westpac Stadium will be our venue for those big crowd games.”
If the proposal proceeds, construction on the project is scheduled to begin later this year with the arena potentially ready for the 2016/17 A League season.