9 Jul 2010

Who needs party central, Auckland bar owners ask

1:31 pm on 9 July 2010

Some Auckland bar owners are questioning the need for a central fan base for next year's Rugby World Cup, as the Government and Auckland Regional Council disagree over developing the proposed waterfront site.

The Government wants an historic cargo shed on Queens Wharf moved, but the council believes there's room for both the shed and a party venue.

If a solution can't be reached, Government says it will consider other venues to host partygoers.

While the regional council and the government squabble over whether to shed or not to shed, some bar owners in the Viaduct have already made up their minds about the issue.

The owner of Home Bar, John Montgomery, questions why a party central is needed at all when there are so many pubs and restaurants in the city which can do the job.

The general manager of O'Hagan's Irish Pub, Sean Lee, agrees and says a decision on the matter may have been left too late.

"For an international event like the Rugby World Cup, it's something that should have been decided a couple of years ago ... and built, if it was going to be built, by now really."

However Tourism Auckland chief executive Graeme Osborne told Morning Report a fan base is needed, to help cope with the 43,000 people who'll be in the city for the Cup.

He says a "sense of occasion" has to be delivered, and that is what is at risk.

While Queens Wharf would be a superior venue, he says, other options such as Aotea Square and Wynyard Wharf would be suitable.

Alex Swney, of Auckland business group Heart of the City, says next year's Rugby World Cup definitely needs a hub for entertainment and Queens Wharf is the best venue.

Regional councillor Paul Walbran says architects have been commissioned and are already working on the options for Queens Wharf.