The Blues confirmed that they will move to a purpose-built, world-class training and administrative headquarters at Alexandra Park in Auckland later this year in a move they believe will provide a vital cog towards sustainable Super Rugby success.
The organisation has committed to a 15-year lease with Auckland Trotting Club to base their High Performance Centre at the Campbell Crescent venue.
The agreement will see the construction of a world-class high performance facility that will include a gym, facilities, offices and training field.
“We aspire to be a world class organisation both on and off the playing field – and we need appropriate facilities for the team and all of our staff,” Blues chairman Tony Carter told the Auckland-based franchise’s official website.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to reposition the entire Blues organisation towards achieving our long term goals.”
Blues chief executive Michael Redman said the organisation underwent a robust competitive RFP process, evaluating a number of proposals before opting for Alexandra Park, ratified by the Blues Board last year and with formal consent process confirmed last week. Construction will start in March.
“The Blues board and shareholders have given tremendous support throughout the process and it is great to be at this point in the development,” he explained.
Redman said the new facility would greatly enhance the team’s ability to prepare as well as retain and recruit players.
“The new facility is not the total solution however it aligns with our other investments in culture, identity and sports science.”
Covering an approximate area of1800sqm, the facility will boast a high-tech gymnasium, prehab/rehab area, rooms for seminars, medical and physiotherapy treatment, sports science and changing rooms, a cafe, and offices for coaching, team management and administration.
The training field is located inside the trotting track with an option for a second field if needed.
The Blues also plan to use the facility for age group development camps and will make it available to the three provincial unions within the Blues region – Northland, North Harbour and Auckland – for training camps and also plan other usage in the sport and the community.
Auckland Trotting Club and the Blues confirmed that the building of the Greenlane-based training facility would not cause any scheduling conflicts between the two organisations, with the Blues planning to move to their new base by the end of the year.
It has presented a unique partnership with the Auckland Trotting Club, who believe the two organisations will not only work together seamlessly, but the partnership presents numerous opportunities to develop marketing and commercial activities to benefit both parties.
“Like the Blues, we are really excited at the enormous opportunities to engage the community with the new facilities and training field, particularly when you consider all the nearby schools,” said Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding.
She said the partnership makes for sound and innovative business sense following its recent development of an urban lifestyle village within Alexandra Park.
“It is another really exciting development for our club which will help sustain and grow harness racing and ensure a good return from some very valuable land which of course remains in the ownership of the club.”
The Blues have been based at Unitec in Mt Albert for approximately 10 years. Its administrative offices were based at Eden Park until last year when after a change in ownership the new Blues stand-alone organisation also moved to their Carrington Rd base.
The move will see rugby return to the venue for the first time in more than a century. Formerly known as Potter’s Paddock, Alexandra Park hosted the 14th All Blacks test in 1908 in which the home team comprehensively beat the British and Irish Lions 29-0 in front of 12,000 people.