Auckland stadium power rankings

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number eleven – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here

Auckland’s stadiums are like Stuff commenters – there are too many of them, and they’ve all got something wrong with them.

This week’s Auckland venue development strategy, handily summarised at sportsfreak.co.nz, confirmed that as ever, the sticking points are Eden Park, Mount Smart and Albany Stadium. There’s an argument for knocking at least two out of three over and starting again.

A waterfront rugby / league/ football / concerts stadium must happen, with a retractable roof and meaningful connection with the CBD. To help push things along, behold the Sport Review Auckland stadium power rankings:

#5 – Eden Park 
What’s it good for? Rugby, and history. It was fantastic for RWC 2011, but that relied on temporary seating being put in. The number two ground is lovely for second tier cricket, with the old stand and the service station over Sandringham Road to aim at.
What’s wrong with it: It’s basically the world’s largest Back Yard Cricket venue, and no-one turns up for Test matches despite best efforts to put on a show. It’s too far out of town and your transport options are highly variable. Residents permanently terrified of Otago students vomiting on the Q7. No concerts allowed.
Personal high point: Cricket World Cup 2015 v Australia and the semi final, Waikato winning the Ranfurly Shield in 1993.

#4 equal – Albany Stadium
What’s it good for? Has potential but needs lots of work. Why not embrace the Shore’s culture and make it Stadium South Africa, home base for visiting Super Rugby teams, with Braai?
What’s wrong with it: Frustratingly far away from the bus station. Could be an ideal NZ Football venue and high performance set up but needs to get a pro team of its own, which is a can of worms bigger than Dune.
Personal high point: I saw the Kingz there once.

#4 equal – Mount Smart
What’s it good for? Spiritual home of the Warriors, in spite of itself. Close-ish to public transport if you’re up for a bit of a walk or are into industrial areas.
What’s wrong with it: Tired, needs a lot of fixing up. Despite having roots in South Auckland, the owners are keen as beans to move into town. Where Carlaw Park was. Ahem.
Personal high point: Paul McCartney last year, Big Day Out ’94.

#3 – America’s Cup village 
What’s it good for? Drinking beer beside the Waitemata water while watching yachts. Simple pleasures. It’s right beside the Viaduct where it all started, and takes advantage of all the development since.
What’s wrong with it? Nothing so far – there’s a lot to do, but it’s going to be in Auckland, not Italy, which is a great start.
Personal high point: When we retain it.

#2 – Vector Area 
What’s it good for? It’s downtown, still pretty modern and great for netball, basketball and concerts.
What’s wrong with it? The trains go straight past it, meaning an awkward walk back from Britomart. Would be the ideal location for a waterfront stadium.
Personal high point: Luckily, courtside for the Breakers one time, Pixies Dolittle tour in ’10.

#1 – Western Springs, cricket venue 
What’s it good for? The boutique ground to rule them all. OK,  it doesn’t technically exist, but if we can build a venue that can handle 5 or 45k fans just as easily, with lights, green top pitch, craft beer and some kind of artisan meat snacks that can still handle big summer concerts, it’s going to be an absolute winner. Victoria Park would be even better but it’s hard to see this flying.
What’s wrong with it: Residents permanently terrified of Guns n Roses showing up in speedway cars to poo on their begonias.
Personal high point: U2’s Love Comes To Town show in 1989, it was ace.

Make rugby great again

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number ten – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here

Rugby in 2018 is rubbish. Scrums that last longer than an Easter traffic jam. A Super Rugby comp that’s as organised as spaghetti. Justin Marshall.

But it used to be brilliant – we just need to bring back these top innovations from the past and everything will be sweet.

  1. Day time rugby. Playing under lights used to feel like the height of sophistication. We’re sick of that now. Day time games means a dry ball and running rugby, university students really enjoy getting drunk in the daylight and it’s heaps easier for mums and dads to take the kids without a meltdown.
  2. Angry coaches. Media training means you never see a decent blow up, walk out or swearing from a coach these days. We used to have an All Black coach called Grizz for goodness sake. Have some pride.
  3. Fighting. They say you can’t get away with dirty play anymore because of all the cameras, but I say just think of all those sweet YouTube views and get stuck in.
  4. Short back and sides. Remember when everyone got on Carlos Spencer’s case ‘cos he had a haircut? Now they’ve all bloody got them.
  5. Terry Wright. What with your ‘nutrition’ and ‘gym’, rugby’s no longer the game for all shapes and sizes. Bring back skinny guys, short arses and fat blokes, and make our national game relatable again.
  6. Tours. Three tests, and playing in the provinces. Seriously though, tours.
  7. Amateurism. Sure, everyone deserves to get paid, but wouldn’t it be better if Sam Whitelock always had time for a yarn at the butchers, Beauden Barrett delivered your Amazon packages and TJ Perenara was the kids’ PE teacher?
  8. Cotton rugby jerseys – jersey grabbing, and carrying twice your body weight in water when it rained added an exciting dynamic imo.
  9. On-field interviews with kids leaping around and pulling faces in the background.
  10. Australia. They were great, we should get those guys involved again.

Like playing in the highlights

This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number nine – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here

Watching sport online in 2018 is a bit of a minefield – sure there’s BeIN for football fans, or League Pass for the NBA and SKYGO, run by the national set-top box business. But nirvana, or being able to see that amazing shot / try / catch / tackle / goal on your Twitter / Instagram / Facebook as it happens is still a little way off for most sports.

Sure, you can usually track down someone who’s pointed their phone at their TV and hit record, but shouldn’t we be able to get a quality, not to mention legal, product these days?

Most sports would see this as cutting their own lunch, or be handcuffed by their broadcasting agreements that pay the bills – but not the NBA. In this fascinating interview with Commissioner Adam Silver, he outlines how fans using NBA clips to create their own content isn’t just allowed but encouraged:

We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube’s software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they’re still going to want to eat meals — which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings.

In other words, if you create a YouTube clip of your favourite player picking their nose, you’re more likely to get a viral hit than a legal letter, because it all drives fans back towards live games on their TV’s.

That means accounts like House of Highlights or content like the Ringer’s NBA desktop not only exist with the league’s blessing but get huge engagement numbers. It’s mature and refreshing, and really, really successful for one of the most popular sports in the world.

Here’s a subjective selection of how other sports stack up:

  • I’ve watched more Indian Premier League on my computer and phone than the TV this year, thanks to the exhausting amount of video, from the seven minute match highlights reels to the stunning catches and sixes to the individual player highlights. The ICC does this really well at tournament time also
  • New Zealand Cricket send you highlights of the day’s play to your phone an hour or so after close of play, if you’re happy to give them your email address – it’s a simple concept but bloody handy if you’re at the beach or work. They also get highlight clips of the amazing moments on social media swiftly
  • The Premier League has some average video ‘content’ on their site, and some retro stuff – wouldn’t it be amazing if they made more of the clips from its history? The teams themselves have some limited highlights and content they’ve created themselves on their own sites
  • Rugby isn’t really in the game, as Elliott Smith pointed out in the Herald this week – and the NRL are leaving them in the dust. And Super Rugby really needs to fix their website for mobile, it’s a shocker
  • Other US sports like Baseball and the NFL have loads of high quality content available, fast

It’s not easy putting a model like the NBA’s in place, which requires not just the vision to accept fans taking control of your product, but either a great relationship with your broadcaster or complete control of your rights.

While most NZ sports well recognise the importance and value of video to create and reward fans, it’ll be interesting to see who’ll be the first to take it to the next, mature level.

Chipping in for Kane on The Spinoff

sportreview.net.nz was lucky enough to contribute to top website The Spinoff, plumping for Kane Williamson as our greatest ever batsman, despite him only being mid-career. Have a read.

Then, come back and watch this video of Kane in the IPL – I love seeing what he can do in games like this, when he’s given a bit more license to improvise. With arguably less pressure on him, he can be as inventive and outlandish as anyone. And as always, matching his approach to what’s required for his team.

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Things David Warner should have been fined for

Everyone’s favourite angry gnome is sick of just playing cricket and that, and is once more focused on verbals and being held back from fights he’d definitely win.

His encounter with de Kock has had more close examination of camera angles than the JFK assassination, with none of them showing much that you’d write home about. Any more discipline demerit points for Warner in the next couple of years will draw a suspension, and free him up to spend more time with his family he’s gotten so angry defending.

In fairness, his coach and CEO seem pretty relaxed about losing their world class opening bat for brain-explosion reasons. Maybe the board should have a view.

Anyway, sportreview.net.nz can exclusively reveal the first Test sideshow is just the tip of the iceberg for fine-worthy infringements. Behold:

David-Warner-fines2-090318

You can click it to make it bigger.

Bay City Ovalers

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BLACKCAPS v England, Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui 28 February 2018

‘It’s great these lights are *finally* up,’ said Neil Craig, NZC board member and a driving force behind developing Bay Oval, while being interviewed on the big screen mid way through England’s innings.

The ‘finally’ indicates the ambition for this ground. Competition is getting fierce among the new breed of boutique grounds that includes University Oval, Hagley Park and  Saxton Oval (not to mention Queenstown, Whangarei, New Plymouth and arguably the Basin, now it’s been opened up to white ball cricket). But the Bay’s oval has moved fastest to get those all-important lights, and was rewarded with the popular holiday period T20s, along with Napier’s only scheduled international game thrown in.

It’s not hard to see more ODIs against the big guns coming here after 8000 or so punters packed in on a Wednesday night, and day / night Tests were mentioned more than once in conversations on the grass banks. It’s an easy ground for punters to get around and find a spot that suits on the banks, and the food on offer is top class, including sportreview.net.nz-endorsed Tag Burger. The Mount looks bloody fantastic on SKY’s  drone shots too.

I’m certain the building won’t stop there either, this ground has built up a serious head of steam. A new stand next?

As for the cricket, it was pretty enjoyable. For England. They fielded like the Kray Twins chasing down a debt, and their batsmen did to us what Ross Taylor and Tom Latham did to them in Hamilton, finding gaps and play it risk-free. It was classy stuff, and this series looks like a tough  assignment for both teams, and an intriguing one for the fans.

Not even Pakistan hipster cable knit could save us #cricket

A post shared by Richard Irvine (@richirvine) on

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Previously

 

Links on Friday

Mesmerising Russian Ice Hockey player Nikita Kucherov gets right inside this goalie’s head and makes himself at home with a fumble-shot, faking to lose the puck but actually sending it smugly goalward. He’s done it before, to the same poor keeper.

 

Long read: a profile of ex-Philidelphia 76ers’ General Manager Sam Hinkie, the Stanford geek who took Moneyball to the extreme by selling his all team’s decent players, with the aim of finishing last and rebuilding from scratch with high draft picks. The fans were split into ‘WTF is going on’ and ‘Trust the process’ camps, and Hinkie, who was fond of appalling corporate-speak like ‘you don’t get to the moon by climbing a tree’, was out after three years. In a shocking plot twist, the team is actually coming right, lead by Joel Embiid, who nicknamed himself ‘The Process’. Read more. And even more.

Nike’s London campaign video is genius:

This (presumably Canadian) God is coming to save the world.