Speedway at Western Springs is close to many Aucklanders’ hearts. As such, the subject of its relocation from Western Springs Stadium will spark much discussion. Here is some background information about speedway’s relocation away from Western Springs.
The future use of Western Springs Stadium was considered in the Unitary Plan process undertaken by council in 2015 and was subject to extensive public consultation. Under the Unitary Plan, Western Springs Stadium is zoned as a Major Recreation Facility and is not zoned as a Motorsport Precinct – this severely restricts the long-term viability of motorsport at the stadium.
The Unitary Plan provisions provide the RFA with the opportunity to consider all options to improve the use and utilisation of the stadium as an important asset for Auckland, which is our mandate. It also gives the speedway classes currently operating out of Western Springs the opportunity to relocate to a venue without the zoning constraints currently hampering their events. These include being limited to 12 race nights and two practice sessions per year. There are also tight restrictions on the number of rain dates for weather affected events and these need to be identified prior to the start of the season.
The long-term sustainability of the venue is also a factor. The annual cost of maintaining Western Springs as a venue is almost four times what the current venue hirer, Springs Promotions Ltd (SPL), pays to use the venue for speedway events. This adds to the opportunity cost Auckland ratepayers are incurring in having speedway continue to operate at Western Springs. Further, as a speedway venue its configuration and physical impact on the stadium significantly hinders our ability to use it for a wider range of other sports, entertainment, and leisure and recreation activities.
By relocating speedway, we believe there will be much higher utilisation and financial return on this strategic stadium asset. After considerable research into and investment of ratepayer money in exploring other options, we believe the sport of speedway and the interests of ratepayers will be better served by bringing all speedway classes together in a single, regional facility.
Currently we are working with the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board and the Auckland Stock and Saloon Car Club on a proposal to redevelop and enhance Waikaraka Park as a regional speedway facility. This option was promoted to RFA by SPL last year.
The benefits of this proposal are clear:
- Waikaraka Park is recognised as a designated Motorsport Precinct within the Unitary Plan
- It is in an industrial area and a relative distance from residential properties
- The Motorsport Precinct Rules provides for 35 motorsport events per year, significantly more than Western Springs’ capability (up to 14 motorsport events per year)
- Planning is currently progressing for Waikararka Park to cater for all classes of speedway, providing a platform for the sustainability and future growth of the sport that is not possible at Western Springs.
Regional Facilities Auckland recognises that, irrespective of the development of any new venues, Auckland must invest considerable sums in our existing, ageing stadium infrastructure over the next two decades just to keep the doors open. Our role is to provide a spectator, hirer and competitor experiences that meet minimum expectations for access, comfort, safety, and cost.
Our consultation with stakeholders will continue as we work on potential future options for Western Springs Stadium and the Waikaraka Park redevelopment.