By: Dale Budge
Speedway Western Springs has fired the first shot in a fight with Regional Facilities Auckland over the future home of the sport with a recent Facebook post generating a massive response backing the sport to remain at the iconic venue.
Promoter Greg Mosen posted the story on the sport’s Facebook page telling fans about the RFA’s plans to remove speedway from the inner-city stadium after next summer which has been home to the sport since the 1920s. It generated a lot of discussion and has been widely viewed.”We stuck it up on Friday night and since then we have had 276,000 people read that story on our Facebook page, which is somewhat of a record for speedway,” Mosen told The Herald.”The general consensus from both speedway fans and, to be honest, people just living in this country that would like the right thing to happen by everybody are all in behind speedway staying at Western Springs for the foreseeable future.
“The RFA seem to be hell-bent to throw speedway because they are in their way and speedway is not going anywhere until we find a suitable alternative and in the meantime we need to stay here until that happens.”
RFA has failed in attempted plans to move some of the major sporting code around the various stadia they operate, including getting speedway out of Western Springs. While some plans like relocating the Warriors to North Harbour Stadium have failed RFA is sticking to their guns of moving speedway once the current deal expires in March 2019 despite Auckland Council requesting a hold on making future plans until more work is done on a city-wide plan of stadia, including the idea of a proposed waterfront stadium and how that works alongside Eden Park.
Mosen is adamant moving speedway will prove a waste of time and money until the future of all stadia in the city is better understood.
“We want an extension to revisit the entire stadium strategy, which we understand the council are supportive of so the RFA are out on a limb on their own,” Mosen said. “We want to see what suits all codes and those codes being Auckland Cricket, NZ Cricket, Ponsonby Rugby, Speedway, the promoters of these concerts and so forth.
“[RFA] set out with a strategy to move the Warriors to Albany and they ended up staying where they are. Then they set out to pick up Eden Park to become one of RFA’s facilities and that hasn’t worked and now we are third or fourth on that list.
“This strategy is in tatters – we need it to be reviewed. We need to put all the codes that are involved, all the people involved including the rate payers of Auckland, who don’t want to spend a chunk of change on some kneejerk reaction to a bad decision.”
Mosen believes RFA wants speedway out of Western Springs so they can schedule concerts on any weekend over summer rather than having to work with speedway on scheduling. But he has worked with planners to ensure the schedules can co-exist and is happy to be flexible to cater for major concerts.
“We are forever moving our schedule around to accommodate these people,” Mosen said. “We dropped two of our events this last summer in order to accommodate the RFA for both Taste and the Auckland City Limits there.
“We have had the Eagles, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, we have had the biggest performing concert artist of all-time in Adele and they all went to Mt Smart. The only people that have been to Western Springs were ACDC, Guns n Roses and Foo Fighters because everyone stands up and dances.
“We don’t need 55,000 people to go to Western Springs to watch Adele because she doesn’t want to hold it there.”
A council decision is likely in May.