by Lindsay Shelton
I got more information than I was expecting from the Transport Agency at its public information day – one of the friendly Agency people told me they’re designing a new Basin Reserve grandstand as part of their flyover plans. The pale angled lines show the site they’ve chosen for the new stand.
Not that it was visible on any of the Agency’s expensively prepared visuals at the weekend. Unless people examined the map and asked questions about the striped lines (as I did), no one would have known what’s being planned.
The Agency is being pressured to develop a new grandstand in this position for two reasons: because it agrees that its huge concrete flyover needs “visual mitigation” (though “mitigation” by a grandstand won’t be of any value except for a few cricketers); and because the Basin Reserve Trust has said it won’t support the flyover unless it gets a new stand. Without Trust support, the Agency would be in trouble. (It may still be in trouble if the city council continues its opposition).
The map shows the dreadful position chosen for the new stand. You can see the three lanes of Kent Terrace traffic approaching the Basin, and the (one?) lane of Cambridge Terrace carrying traffic in the opposite direction. You can also see the enormity of the massive flyover above the roads. Then on the Basin side of the flyover, the stripes show the grandstand that they’re planning, to protect cricketers from seeing cars nine metres above ground.
Why is it a dreadful position? At present, the entrances to the ground reinforce the open space corridor of the north/south Kent/Cambridge Terrace-Adelaide Road axis. But the off-centre stand would destroy this corridor. It’ll be a visual blockage as crude as the New World supermarket at the other end of the boulevard.
The most logical location – if a second stand is needed – would be to replace the earthquake-prone Museum Stand, to continue the existing relationships of buildings on the western side of the Basin. A new stand in this position could incorporate all the loose ends as well – toilet block/admin/maintenance/warm-up/nets area etc. But this wouldn’t hide the flyover from the players. Which is the only reason for putting it inside the north/south corridor.
There’s another problem. One of the reasons the Basin Reserve is recognised as one of the top 10 grounds in the world is the open space around its perimeter. But this would be curtailed if a stand is built in the position shown on the map.
Then there are the southerlies. A stand facing the southerlies is not a good idea, especially as the ground is famous for tests being played in such conditions.
In other words, if a stand is built in this position it’ll create more adverse effects than it resolves. And while the stand may stop cricketers from being distracted, the rest of us will have to look not only at the flyover but also at the back wall of a new building. An unmitigated disaster for this part of Wellington.