The NRL’s New Zealand Warriors – known as the Vodafone Warriors – have announced that the team will call the Mount Smart Stadium home until at least the end of the 2028 season. The club and Regional Facilities Auckland have signed a deal extending the team’s current contract, which expired at the end of the 2018 season, by 10 years.
Final contract details are being ratified, but in a statement on the team’s website, RFA CEO Chris Brooks said the discussions with the Vodafone Warriors had been entirely constructive and were focused on finding the best solution that met the club’s needs and those of fans alongside the RFA’s goal to maximize the use of its facilities on a cost-effective basis for ratepayers.
“This agreement offers value to both parties,” he said. “Importantly, it offers greater commercial value to the RFA and Auckland ratepayers, reflecting the council’s investments in Mount Smart Stadium and the ongoing cost of maintaining the venue into the future, while also providing certainty and some enhancements for the Warriors and their fans.”
Warriors managing director Jim Doyle credited Brooks for opening the way for a review of the RFA’s plans for Mount Smart Stadium.
“We were in a position not so long ago where we were being told Mount Smart Stadium wouldn’t be our home beyond 2018,” he explained. “We were passionate about staying here. We have always said it is our home and we certainly appreciate the way so many people showed their support for us to remain, particularly our members, fans and, of course, our number one member, [Vodafone Warriors ambassador] Sir Peter Leitch.
“We’re especially grateful to Chris who was open to consultation and discussion about the stadium strategy. It’s his attitude and his willingness to listen to our views which has enabled us to reach the point we are at today.
“This is a fantastic day for the Vodafone Warriors, for our players and staff, for all our members, for the city and for rugby league.”
Leitch was elated about the decision. “This is a huge day for everyone who loves the Vodafone Warriors, for all the members and the fans,” he said. “Mount Smart is our home. We love it here and I couldn’t be happier that this has all been sorted out.”
Doyle also revealed that the terms of the agreement feature an undertaking for significant upgrading of the stadium and its facilities.
“This will include replacement seating, refurbishment of the dressing room facilities and a community classroom while the agreement also allows for replacement floodlights, a new big screen and a facelift for various areas of the stadium,” he said. “We’re excited about what is in store as we work with the RFA to make Mount Smart Stadium the best home it can be for the Vodafone Warriors.”
Doyle also said that, beyond 2028, the Vodafone Warriors were keen to see the concept of a city football stadium become a reality to bring sporting codes and fans together as one in the heart of the central city.
February 19, 2016