I went to see the second match in the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park on the weekend, and I walked away with a few impressions. Firstly, that when they want to, the All Blacks know how to play rugby, secondly that Kiwi’s quite enjoy a game of rugby, and thirdly, Eden Park has a great atmosphere, but is one of the most poorly thought out stadium’s.
This is the premium stadium in a rugby mad nation and has a decent capacity of a little over 45,000. It is nicely packed in so the atmosphere is amazing, however the stadium itself is located in the middle of suburbia. And when I say in the middle of suburbia, I mean it literally is located in a suburb, right next to houses!
There is limited car parking, and from what I could tell it’s not open to the public, it could not have held more than a few hundred cars, you could not enter the stadium premises and then walk around the perimeter easily – you have to walk down the bordering streets to access the side of the stadium you want to enter by – once you do enter the stadium you’re greeted by a couple of kids, no more than 18 years old who rip your ticket, movie cinema style and let you in. No bag check nothing!
I couldn’t believe how chaotic the whole process was. Traffic was an absolute nightmare to shuttle the tens of thousands of people via bus and train into suburbia. I can only assume the residents of Kingsland are just used to it being this way, and in fact, some were making a few dollars from the whole thing by selling parking and sausage sizzles.
Despite the result in the game where the Wallabies were thrashed, it was a good night, and the atmosphere in the game was great, but I have grave reservations about Eden Park as the destination for the 2011 World Cup, and think that Auckland really should have gone for the waterfront stadium option. However if the redevelopment plans do everything they say they will – perhaps it will fix all the issues I’ve just mentioned. We’ll just have to wait and see.