The Eye of the Fish

July 13, 2010

Where did I stick my Stadium?

Following swiftly on from the news that Wellington Waterfront is even thinking of demolishing the existing stadium, comes the question: If not there, then where?

Its clear that the current site can’t cope with much more expansion, given that it is quite a large building already, and I can’t see anyone being particularly happy at the big shed getting even bigger or shedier. Although the DomPost reported that that was being considered, it is not really an answer. They might be able to go from a capacity of say, 3000, to say, 4000: but what they really need is to get to a capacity of 8000 or 10,000. That is way more than can ever be installed on that site. Vector Arena in Auckland – although strangely misshapen – can take up to (I think) about 17,000.

I’m presuming that other sites may be being considered. It is a pity that the new Indoor Sports Stadium is being built in Kilbirnie, as that would have been big enough, but the Kilbirnie Stadium report made it clear that the sports folk didn’t want to share their building on odd evenings with rockers etc – as this would have stopped their netball for a night. What that does mean is that the possibility of an events only stadium in the inner city could be a possibility.

So, sites that may be possible must include:
The Stadium forecourt – up on stilts above Fran Wilde Walk.
The Centreport log farm – really, do we need to have our low value exports stored on prime waterfront land?
The Carparks under the Motorway – I know there is a lot of space there, but is it enough?

Where else? Any other suggestions?

Thomas Beagle
13 - 07 - 10

Do you realise that your site has been hacked? It’s trying to force people to download a variety of Trojans (software that installs itself on their PC and does bad things. You need to get this fixed or else it’ll keep infecting your visitors.

13 - 07 - 10

Thomas – thanks for the heads up. No sign of it infecting my computer network – can you tell us more about what it says / does.
Anyone else having the same problem?

Alan Wylde
13 - 07 - 10

My antivirus software has just notified me that it has repelled an attack!

13 - 07 - 10

Yep – a bar came up at the top of my browser (GoogleChrome), notifying me that the site is trying to download programs/files onto my computer, and asking me whether I wanted to let it do so…

I quite respectfully declined the opportunity…

13 - 07 - 10

Re: actual post – why not just put a lid (retractable or otherwise, on the cake-tin…?

13 - 07 - 10

so, I need to tell the mighty Google to f___ off? That’ll be interesting. Not sure how to disinfect the site – I’ve tried some spraying my computer with Raid – and will also try BAM degreaser, but I’ll have to get Philip to appear and wave a magic wand or something, because there is no sign of any bugs in here.

Maybe its a PC only thing – I’m on a Mac at present, and no signs of gremlins here… Thomas, Alan, m-d, you’ll have to change to a Mac !

14 - 07 - 10

“pete” from the DomPost website says: Pete #9 08:02 pm Jul 10 2010

“It was a mistake right from the start. The arena floor should have been down at the car park level with the load in ramp downwards, it could have easily have been an 8000 capacity arena with the standard headroom of any international arena to allow the stage to be at head height. At the time it was built there were plenty of examples to copy, like Perth Entertainment Centre. The sports lobby also kneecapped the design with the permanent basketball floor. If they bowl it and do it properly, can the council please take some advice from consultants who design these facilities internationally instead of local bigheads.”

Quintin Howard
14 - 07 - 10

quick look on Google maps and the Vector Arena Auckland only has a slightly bigger footprint than our TSB Arena, so somthing could possibly be done on the same site. However I think a move to a site down by the Cake Tin would be a better option. Over Fran Wilde walk or over the top of the train tracks would be my personal choice.

not a charlie
14 - 07 - 10

Oh No – and now even the DomPost editorial has got on board, bringing back the hoary old Prince Charles bogey –

It is retarded how even 20-30 years after he made that stupid statement, that some psycophantic monarchist tossers still bring up his name! Who gives a monkeys what old Charlie boy thinks!

“OPINION: Architecture critic Prince Charles has again got himself into bother for waging a successful behind-the-scenes campaign to have a large steel-and-glass luxury flats complex, planned for the Chelsea Barracks site in London, abandoned. What then would the heir to the throne make of the Soviet-style ablution block plonked on Wellington’s waterfront in the mid-90s and which has played host to basketball games, expos, World of WearableArt shows and the odd concert ever since? If he labelled it a monstrosity, he would be right.

Last weekend, Wellingtonians learned that demolishing what is now known as the TSB Arena is being considered as part of a revamp of Queens Wharf. Wellington Waterfront Ltd, known in governance jargon as a council-controlled organisation, has set up an 11-member group, comprising a miscellany of interests, from developers, to architects, to art critics, to review the public area from the northern perimeter of Frank Kitts Park to Post Office Square. This follows last year’s competition for use of the wharf’s outer T.

The result of the review might be that the events centre is expanded, has its uses redrawn, or is blown to smithereens. And if the latter happens, the next question becomes what to replace it with if it is replaced at all. It is there the fun will start.

Wellingtonians feel very proprietorial about their waterfront. It is a fact that both delights and frustrates councillors, council officers and Wellington Waterfront because, though people take great pride in what it has become, gaining consensus on what should be sited there has proven well nigh impossible. Lobby groups such as Waterfront Watch have been extremely critical of much of what has been proposed for this jewel in Wellington’s diadem and so, too, have some councillors.

Which makes the timing of this review a mite puzzling. Presumably the waterfront company considered the political dimension of its decision? Does it really want some existing, as well as would-be councillors, grandstanding in the run-up to this year’s local body elections in October, pushing for one solution or another? That is almost certainly what it will get.

Nonetheless, the review is sensible, quite apart from its being a statutory duty for any company to review, then maintain those assets it opts to keep. Though Wellingtonians do not much like the squat ugliness of the events centre, it is probably fair to say they have grown accustomed to her face. So they will expect that if any edifice is built in her stead, it will be more attractive, and become a magnet for those who enjoy promenading along the waterfront, because an overbridge linking Post Office Square and Queens Wharf plaza seems out of the question.

Wellington Waterfront will be aware that, now its review of the area has become public knowledge, everyone will want a say. Is it too much to hope that, for once, the public discourse will include mature debate that weighs the opportunity cost of public space versus the economic return to the city of a commercial operation? Probably. Just as well Charles doesn’t live in Wellington, then. “

14 - 07 - 10

No problem in Firefox 3.6.6/Vista64.

I second the train tracks. Though over Fran Wilde Walk is a big mistake imho, reinforces this ugly thing, and the lack of any masterplan for the area. The redevelopment of Queens Wharf doesn’t need to be rushed does it, so maybe there’s time to do it in phases and get it right. If I could dream maybe it’d be something like:

1. Lower the tracks between where they pass the firestation/stadium to the station. Not necessary to lower them completely, but enough of a depression that anything built over it, like buildings or plazas doesn’t have to be stacked too high, looking ugly, and making access difficult.

2. Enclose the station platforms in some kind of glass “thing”, e.g. like the great stations in europe. So it’s one big hall. This would terminate at its northern end at a new plaza that connects Thorndon Quay with Waterloo Quay. Perhaps just following the diagonal (almost exactly east/west) trajectory of Lambton Quay/Kate Shephard Place. The tracks would head under the plaza, while the platforms would have access up to the plaza with steps/escalators.

3. Purchase the land on Waterloo Quay to control development here, and make it fit into the masterplan, rather than the ugly kind of crap that will pop up otherwise (e.g. that horrible oval thing that was proposed).

4. Purchase the Capital Gateway shops (is that what they’re called? I forget, the ones with Freedom furniture in them). Then when ready to build the new events centre demolish these, the centre’s western facade will border this curve of Thorndon Quay, and extend over the tracks. The train parking area may be moved to the shedloads of space now available on the rest of the railyards further north. This area below the stadium can provide some small amount of parking/services area/etc. The main entrance would spill out in a southwest direction, onto the new plaza across the train tacks, facing the station and the intersection across to the bus terminal.

Perhaps some retail space can be built into the Thorndon Quay side to recoup some of the costs of buying those shops/demolishign them, and to keep that edge somewhat active. (Rather than just a blank wall like the side of Vecter Arena).

5. The Waterloo Quay side can be developed to fit into the master plan with whatever is appropriate. I would’ve liked to have seen the sports centre in Kilbernie built here on two floors, it would’ve been a very unique one of a kind sports centre, and it could’ve been divided up quite nicely to allow some of the space to be used for conferences/carshows/that kind of thing.

6. Fran Wild walk will more or less be replaced, with the concrete plaza out front of the stadium flowing down to the walk over the depressed tracks inbetween the new indoor stadium and the developments on waterloo quay.

Or some other variation on the same theme.

15 - 07 - 10

Suggestion 1: At Queens Wharf, drop the Quay in to a cut and cover tunnel. The replacement venue would be built over the current TSB site and extend out across the top of the tunnel. That would join Queens Wharf up with Post Office Square, removing the motorway-like barrier dividing the city from the waterfront.

Suggestion 2: Realise that rearranging and loading freight trains is not an activity that warrants an area of land the size of most of the CBD right on the doorstep of parliament. Close down the rail yards. Cut and cover 3 or 4 tunnels for commuter trains from the ferry terminal to the station. Demolish the ugly concrete walkway to the stadium. Take the vast area of land freed up, build regular streets across it, and concert venues, sports centers, shops, offices, and apartments as you wish.

17 - 07 - 10

My computer has just warned me that this site is ‘dangerous’! Clearly, urban commentary is a very risky business.

17 - 07 - 10

sarah – sorry to scare you – yes, a very risky business – but only for us, not for you. Philip has done a security upgrade, so there shouldn’t be any ‘dangerous’ issues with regards to you and your computer.

Us? Just lack of sleep at times….

17 - 07 - 10

Erentz and David P – great comments, thank you. I think I agree, in total, with every point you make. I wonder how to get the pollies to think so clearly and logically.

There is a certain total logic in developing the railway land as you say – the Fran Wilde Walk, while much lauded, and great on a warm, windless summer night, is really a miserable place for much of the rest of the time. It probably made sense at the time, but it may be time to move on to something newer and more flexible and functional. Just like Fran herself, really?

andy foster
17 - 07 - 10

This will be an interesting discussion – and I agree with Not a Charlie – wouldn’t it be great to have a real mature conversation about issues like this, instead of a whole bunch of quickly conceived views followed by trench warfare between people who made up their minds early.

So in terms of contributing to discussion – I can’t help but begin with – oh how I wish we’d build a the multi purpose venue over the Fran Wilde Walkway. When we discussed the location for the indoor sports facility during 2008/9 the team I was working with had done some very good thinking about the cost of a 12 court sports facility with all the requirements for being concert capable. Of course that would have been more expensive than just building a 12 court sports venue – needing seating, acoustics, appropriate air conditioning systems etc. To our amazement and dismay being multi-purpose was not seen as a positive, but as a negative by the Council’s reviewers. Having occasional 10,000 type concerts would used 8 courts and would have displaced sport but we’d still have had 4 courts left at the concourse and also the TSB arena as an overflow.

As we said at the time, the city is likely to end up investing in an indoor sports stadium (Kilbirnie), a big concert venue, and likely a convention facility, 3 venues at a combined cost of …. looking north of $200 million instead of trying to do 2 and maybe all 3 in one facility for under $100 m. Compromises for sure in terms of use, but another $100 million on the debt line is expensive for all this exclusivity !

Anyway that decisions done for good or ill.
The interesting thing about a concert venue will be the business case. It’d be great having concerts that currently bypass Wellington, but question is – how many, and what are they worth, and how does that relate to the cost of a venue ? I’d hold fire on making a judgement either way on that at this stage.

Second question is would you demolish the TSB Arena ? It’s certainly ugly, but – sorry to bring in dollars and cents – it is very well used now under WFCC management, and it’s also worth quite a lot of (ratepayers’) money. There are all sorts of uses – some might go into a concert venue. When inevitably Shed 1 goes I’m sure 2000 corporate sportspeople a week would be keen to see Shed 1 retainted if the concerts went elsewhere.

Third question – if a bigger concert venue then where ? I’d be interested in those thoughts. The railyards have to be an option , if they can be prized away from current owners/use – at a reasonable cost. The Fran Wilde Walkway ? Well I would say yes, but Council is in a bit of a cleft stick on this one as two alleged ‘showstoppers’ for placing the indoor sports venue there were fire egress from Westpac Stadium, and safe access from the parking below the concourse to the above concourse venue. Well we didn’t find either of those convincing, and neither did the expert consultants on our side of that conversation, but Council accepted them.

It will be indeed an interesting conversation !

Looking forward to more.

Warmest regards

Cr Andy Foster
Urban Development Leader
Wellington City Council

18 - 07 - 10

There are other options for the possible concert / stadium venues. We seem to be a bit stuck on the “if it is in Wellington, then it must be on the waterfront” route. Which, if you think about it, is a bit of a silly thing to do. Let’s look at it logically:
Large scale concert venue : we’re talking about an Indoor market, where people need to be sitting in a sealed black box.
Conference Centre : people sitting inside a room, listening to others talk and show powerpoint presentations
Sports Centres : peole running and jumping, all in a controlled atmosphere environment, with no rain or sun.

Whereas what we want from a waterfront is a continuous area on which to walk, rollerblade, stop off for coffee, look at other people, and perhaps occasionally buy something, or sit down and eat, drink. What we want is easy access from all over the city to the waterfront – ie maximum permeability.

So concentrating thought on a possible replacement for the TSB Arena doesn’t necessarily make sense. Perhaps we should look a little further inland, where it is not going to obscure harbour views. Anywhere along the main spine of traffic routes would do – we have a great public transport system with the current bus system (and potential future Light Rail into the mix as well).

My vote therefore, for due consideration: Newtown’s old Showgrounds. A large, flat area, massively under-utilised in the centre of an existing retail area (that could certainly do with some more investment!) that is right on the route of the main traffic route. Imagine that area connected by a light rail spur up to the central railway station…

60 MPa
23 - 07 - 10

Leaving light rail obsessives to one side for the moment I like Guy’s line about Newtown’s Winter showgrounds as a possible sporting arena in future – remember that most are there to do and not to watch. A big tin shed up there, covering the carparks above and behind the ballet practise area could be relatively cheap to build over an existing hard flat surface.

The main problem I’ve experienced with viewing anyrhing in the TSB Arena is the flat bottom. From a Tool gig to Stage Challenge shows (Yes, guilty) No-one could see to the back of the stage or, if in the wrong place, much at all.

This Guy “pete” who comments that the Arena should be, in fact, round, is spot on the money.The Roman amphitheatre model with, possibly, a raked/sloping stage is a good solution. I understand from Andy (and I appreciate a proactive approach from a WCC rep) that the sports faculty wanted a flat bottom but if we could put them somewhere where the traffic demands weren’t quite as high as the sudden inflow/egress that a concert/show demands then surely they’d be happy?

I understand that they regularly use the current facility and keep it ticking over but how about this – if the sports people want a roof over their activities why don’t we, as a city, give it to them?

If the TSB Arena is to be demolished then lets stick the sides and roof onto the carpark behind the winter showbuildings.
If it can be built, it can be un-built.
If the floor needs to be flat, the carpark is flat
If the roof can stand up to a harbour gust, it can stand up to a Newtown Gust
It’s recycling,baby!

I reckon that this -cheap- proposal would leave the current site available to be redeveloped as a purpose-built stadium – perhaps a tad smaller but definitely
nestled lower down and rounded so that anyone can see the stage clearly.

Cut a hole through the guts, lay a ramp down to it, redistribute the seating in a circular fashion and whack a -lower- roof over it OR, even better,do the exact same thing further North…

25 - 07 - 10

Come to think of it, I’ve looked up Google Maps as well, and the Newtown Showgrounds do have the space. Transport access may be an issue though.

The area above the Fran Wilde Walkway has the space, and transport would be less of an issue. Views, though, could be a potential fish-hook.

The existing TSB Arena can be facelifted, or otherwise kept, as a purpose-built sports venue, if knocking it down is too fiddly.

Eye of the Fish | A wide-angle view of architecture, urban design and life in Wellington
27 - 07 - 10

[…] ‘black box’ to be), I thought it may be useful to research some other sites around town that have been mooted. All the images have been sourced from googlemaps, and all are at exactly the same scale and same […]