“Intimate” $48m Petone football stadium planned; exciting, says Gareth Morgan

petone stadium

News from Hutt City Council
A $48 million proposal released today by the Hutt City Community Facilities Trust and Welnix Director Dr Gareth Morgan includes plans to build a 10,000 – 12,000 seat boutique stadium at the southern end of the Petone Recreation Ground.

The Petone Arena is part of a multi-purpose community sport and event centre that will play host to the Wellington Phoenix football team.

On Wednesday 26 February the Hutt City Community Facilities Trust have been invited to make a detailed submission to the Hutt City Council requesting a council contribution towards the proposal of $25 million be considered.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says “the submission will be made as part of Hutt City Council’s long-term financial planning cycle and if supported, will be put forward for community consultation from mid-April 2014.”

News from Wellington Phoenix
The Hutt City Council today announced plans for a new boutique football specific sports stadium based at the Petone Recreation Ground site. If the plan proceeds, construction could start this year.

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 are plans for a Tawa to Petone road link – but also due to a number of valuable partnerships situated nearby.

Weltec, 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.”



  1. Brenda Pilott, 17. February 2014, 16:56

    The proposed new stadium in Petone needs careful thought. A big hit for WCC and hotels and bars nearby. Transport not so good. [via Twitter]

  2. Alastair Thompson, 17. February 2014, 16:59

    Petone is as close to the Caketin as you could possibly build a stadium. This is a completely daft idea. [via Twitter]

  3. Piers Dobier, 17. February 2014, 18:41

    Seems once again that a City Council which is paid for by the residents of the city has decided to sell off the public assets to a private enterprise so that private enterprise can take control of what is the only green space in the Petone area available for all, to ensure their private profitability.

  4. Neil Douglas, 17. February 2014, 19:40

    Thinking within the rectangle.

    Atmosphere will be great even with small crowds.

    Pity Wellington got it so wrong with a cake tin.

  5. Linda Reeves, 18. February 2014, 12:29

    We have a perfectly good stadium in Wellington with excellent transport. Who cares if a crowd of 7000 doesn’t create the atmosphere Gareth Morgan wants for his team. With a 15 minute walk to a railway station to the new proposed Petone Stadium the crowds may get even smaller! Spend the $48 million on rent a crowd or even better on helping people in Africa again.

  6. Notunreasonable Mark, 18. February 2014, 14:28

    Why not ask the NZTA to build a flyover nearby and then to build the Petone stadium in order to hide it? Given that the NZTA has offered $10 million to build an unnecessary stand at the Basin, surely $10 million for one of the four stands for the Petone stadium would be money well spent.

    Gareth Morgan could also consider signing a few young African starlets up on the back of the increased gate receipts to help Linda and her ‘save Africa’ cause.

  7. Michael Houlihan, 19. February 2014, 0:00

    So what about the Basin Reserve ?

    The Basin Reserve used to hold Chatham Cup Soccer fixtures and 50-over International Cricket games. But now it is an underutilised facility, funnily enough underutilised for cricket since the Westpac Stadium was built (apart from holding amazing Test match cricket games such as NZ v India 2nd test 2014).

    The Basin will have a new $12 million pavilion built at the north end as part of the State Highway 1 overpass plan, and apart from forming a large “side screen” for cricket games, surely this new stand provides more seating facilities for the Basin and could be completed late 2016 all going to plan.

    In addition the historic Museum stand may eventually be earthquake strengthened ($6 million) and available again for seating noting according to “Cricinfo” the Basin Reserve has a capacity of 11,600 (assuming that’s correct) …plenty for most Phoenix games in my experience as a “Phoenix Supporter”.

    One other important point is the natural crowd “ambience” of the Basin Reserve (and in fact the Westpac Stadium due to the circular amphitheatre profile,) which is not something I believe that the proposed Petone Stadium with its rectangular layout of stands would replicate.

    So the “revamped” Basin Reserve in combination with occasional use of Westpac Stadium (when the Basin has a cricket event clash with soccer) could offer a more obvious option for the Phoenix . Both sports would in effect share the Basin Reserve again as they once used to, noting in fact they both share Westpac with other sports such as rugby.

  8. Nora, 19. February 2014, 9:41

    Apart from the soccer I remember marching girls and brass and pipe band competitions at the Basin – also school sports and concerts. Have never understood how under-used it has become.

  9. L'eric Cantona, 19. February 2014, 9:43

    There is zero atmosphere at the Cake Tin except with 25,000 in it (and only just then) – Why? because Fran Wilde ignored all the advice and built the wrong shaped ground in order to host the odd one day cricket match. The cake tin is simply too big and more importantly the fans are too far away from the action. Look at European soccer grounds – the best ones are where the stands are steep and are close to the pitch so you can touch the players. Look what Perth has done too.

    And what do you mean $6 million to fix the Museum strand! Sacre bleu, merdre! The estimate has certainly shot through the roof since the last time I looked. Should be closer to a million. I guess there is interest in getting the cost up to make the proposed new ‘Morrison’ stand look cheap.

  10. Linda Reeves, 19. February 2014, 10:19

    Not unreasonable Mark, my comment about Africa referred to how some years ago Gareth Morgan travelled around Africa helping communities in very practical ways such as providing access to water. He used his own money. I admired him for that, less so for his more recent cat campaign and the stadium idea.

  11. Paul Eagle, 20. February 2014, 8:00

    Voice your concerns at a public meeting – Petone Baptist Church (Buick St), 7:30pm Monday. [via Twitter]

  12. Driver, 20. February 2014, 8:01

    Do Hutt ratepayers really want to contribute $25m to a second Stadium?

  13. CC, 20. February 2014, 8:18

    Do Hutt ratepayers want to subsidise a private sector business (Welnix) which wants $25m to strengthen the bottom line for its shareholders?

  14. Tony Orlando, 20. February 2014, 8:26

    Driver: You are so right. Lower Huttites don’t have $25 million stuffed under a collective mattress.

    Why not ask Fran Wilde to ‘tie a yellow ribbon round an ole oak tree’ and start another yellow ribbon campaign but this time for the right shaped stadium i.e. rectangular.

    Fran’s good at campaigns and you never know she might learn from the last mistake. We could name the stadium bus park after her too.

  15. Alana, 20. February 2014, 23:44

    Michael – I agree, but I also hope that the dreaded flyover and the limited seating VIP pavilion don’t happen.
    The atmosphere at the Basin – even at the Christchurch event with 11, 000 people – is fun and really enjoyable. The Stadium seems to bring out the worst in many people.
    If the heritage values and the grass bank can be retained, it would be a wonderful to see the soccer group use their funding to restore the Museum Stand, add another right next to it and maybe, just maybe, kick in to preserve the Groundskeepers shed that is left to rot.
    More activities, sports, concerts, and lots of other events could make the Basin Reserve once again the heart of Wellington

  16. Albert Tatlock, 21. February 2014, 10:17

    Alana, The Basin is no good for the world game (soccer/football). I’ve been to Chatham Cup finals there and you are so far away from the action that it’s hard to get excited about anything.

    On the other hand, Test cricket is great at the Basin (apart from on windy days) because you can easily go to sleep since its so quiet. The food’s really crap though when you wake up: a greasy latex hot dog or a ‘pink slime’ hamburger ‘. So no better than the Cake Tin foodwise.

    I’m sure mega-brain economist Gareth Morgan has considered the Basin as it is nearer his Oriental Bay home so he would be able to walk to the ground and save on petrol or a taxi fare.

    Then there’s NZTA – so Alana, enjoy your Basin for a couple of years because NZTA’s going to ruin it with a flyover.

  17. George, 3. March 2014, 17:48

    The Petone recreation ground is a wonderful asset as it is. I was there on Sunday, it was being fully utilised by various groups, playing sport, having a picnic, doing fitness programs and individuals walking dogs, cycling and children playing. A fantastic open space. The region has already paid for a stadium. Do the people of the Hutt really want to pay twice?


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