PHOTO: Speedway has a long history at Western Springs. This photo dates from a practice session there before the start of the 1989-1990 season. TYRONE KALLMEIER
Steve Kilgallon reports that fans eager to witness action at Western Springs are expressing their frustration over the seven-month delay by the council in commencing repair work after the Auckland Anniversary Weekend floods.
Wayne Green, owner of a speedway team, voices his concern, stating, “I’ve invested a significant amount in this sport over the last two decades, and thsex toy stores adidas online shop best jordan 1 baltimore ravens lace front wigs nfl shop free shipping best adidas running shoes best wigs for black women human hair wigs san francisco 49ers jersey sex toys for beginners nike air max 90 womens adidas yeezy 700 adidas yeezy foam runner mens nfl super bowl e absence of a functional venue is distressing.”
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Seven months have elapsed since heavy rains during Auckland Anniversary weekend resulted in citywide flooding, prompting the closure of Western Springs Stadium. This iconic venue hosts major rock concerts, rugby union matches, and is renowned for speedway racing.
However, renovations on the damaged stadium only began a few days ago, a pace that has incensed speedway enthusiasts. They fear that an entire racing season may pass without action, posing a dire threat to the sport at its historic home.
Jamie McDonald, a title-winning speedway driver, criticizes the slow progress, stating, “It’s absolutely unacceptable how long they’ve taken to start. Everyone has moved on from the flooding, and no repairs have even begun. It seems like they want us out of here, and this feels like an underhanded way to achieve that.”
During the flooding, water levels rose rapidly, reaching 80mm in the stadium’s main structures. Subsequently, the receding waters left dead fish in the car park, which is utilized as the speedway racing pits, and damaged the asphalt. They also submerged the switchboard and power supply, caused landslides on the nearby hillside, and left the eastern hill’s boundary wall unstable, posing risks to six neighboring houses. At one point, water levels were thigh-high above the clay racetrack.
James Parkinson, the director of Auckland Stadiums, explains that the organization has primarily focused on investigative work and is only now beginning physical repairs on the car park and main buildings. However, there are still design, engineering, and permitting challenges to overcome, particularly regarding the power supply and the unstable wall.
Parkinson rejects claims of slow progress by the Auckland Council, asserting, “I wouldn’t agree that it’s been slow… Seven months down the line, there might not be much visible progress, but that doesn’t mean nothing has been happening. The issues we’re dealing with are quite complex.”
Nevertheless, speedway enthusiasts insist that the council could have acted more swiftly. Wayne Green, who owns a demolition contracting business, states that his staff were engaged in insurance work within two weeks of the floods and shortly after Cyclone Gabrielle, removing damaged structures.
“It’s becoming frustrating; we don’t know what to expect,” he laments. “We invest heavily, yet we can’t plan our season or make decisions on where to race.”
Jamie McDonald, who has raced at Western Springs for 23 years, reveals that one of his sponsors, the electrical retailer JA Russell, offered the council a report on how to address the electrical issues. Despite this, McDonald claims that the council appears disinterested in accepting assistance and prefers a slow, cumbersome process that could eventually force speedway racing out of its historic home.
Suspicion lingers among speedway fans due to previous attempts by the council to relocate them to other venues, including Mt Smart Stadium and a failed greenfield project near Auckland Airport, leading to a ‘Save our Speedway’ campaign.
Both McDonald and Green express their inability to plan their seasons or negotiate with sponsors due to the uncertainty. Green emphasizes the significance of Western Springs as the most prestigious stadium in New Zealand, if not the world, for sponsors to gain exposure.
John McCallum, the speedway’s general manager, adopts a conciliatory approach, stating that they have worked hard to improve their relationship with the stadium’s landlords. However, he acknowledges occasional clashes in styles between private commercial enterprises and governmental or council bureaucracies.