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Cake Tin lacks a certain build-up to the game?

By Amie Mills

Don't get me wrong I think the Westpac Trust Stadium is a magnificent venue for sporting events. It's aesthetically pleasing, provides great viewing from all angles, and was designed for people to move around easily and quickly. The Cake Tin, as it is often referred to, can hold a crowd of up to 34,500 and was structurally designed by Holmes Consulting Group to withstand Wellington's often-unfriendly high winds and the ever-present possibility of "the big one." It officially opened on New Years Eve 1999 with the total cost of production close to US$50 million dollars. I think it was worth every penny and yet there is still something missing compared to the atmosphere that existed in the days of Athletic Park.

Athletic Park wasn't an ideal sporting venue. For one thing, it was situated in Newtown,which was nowhere near as central to public transport and areas north of Wellington as the Stadium is. Secondly, the Park was not designed to protect its crowds or players from the fierce weather. The first international test held there in 1896 is remembered not only for a New Zealand victory but for the heavy northerly that brought sheets of rain down on the park and virtually obscured the players. Eventually, the Park was costing Wellington Rugby close to $300,000 a year for maintenance and, as the NZRFU website pointed out, after a decade of dedicated service, Athletic Park was simply getting too old to produce the goods as an international sporting venue.

I understand all this and yet I dearly miss the atmosphere that surrounded those dedicated treks through Newtown to the Park. I remember pubs along the way humming with anticipation about the game, friendly banter with strangers on the street corners as you trudged behind a steady stream of scarf-laden, banner-waving families and friends. On the walk to the Hurricanes/Chiefs game last night, the barriers and concrete walkway seemed to herd us into the turnstiles in a much more sanitized and subdued nature than is appropriate for a rugby match. I miss the organized chaos and the sense of community from those Athletic Park days and it just goes to show that no matter how much money or planning goes into it - the atmosphere and build up to our national game is priceless.

 

 

 

On the walk to the game last night, the barriers and concrete walkway seemed to herd us into the turnstiles in a much more sanitized and subdued nature than is appropriate for a rugby match.

I remember pubs along the way humming with anticipation about the game, friendly banter with strangers on the street corners as you trudged behind a steady stream of scarf-laden, banner-waving families and friends.

Final final match at Athletic Park on Sunday 10 October 1999

Updated: 12 May, 2006 | Copyright Media Studies, Victoria University