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Photo credit: Flickr user fiverlockerThere is noth­ing like a good loc­al debate, and there is no debate in Wel­ling­ton at the moment quite like that sur­round­ing the Basin Reserve fly­over. There are many reas­ons for oppos­ing this pro­ject, which seems an expens­ive and back­ward-look­ing way of mov­ing traffic con­ges­tion 200m to the east. How­ever, ‘Sav­ing the Basin’ is not one of them.

The group oppos­ing the fly­over have decided to attach the city’s love of the ground to their cam­paign, call­ing them­selves ‘Save the Basin’. At best, this is disingenuous.

The Basin is a won­der­fully Wel­ling­ton type of place. Foun­ded as a res­ult of an earth­quake, added to sporad­ic­ally and remod­elled 35 years ago, it is an eclect­ic mix­ture of the old, the new­ish and nature. It is also eas­ily the country’s prime ven­ue for test crick­et, and even cas­u­al crick­et fans in this city have an attach­ment to it.

The fly­over will pass the north­east side of the ground. A new stand will be built, join­ing the R.A. Vance stand and the north end of the bank, with the bonus of repla­cing the Vic­tori­an pub­lic toi­let-like gates. The stand will be four stor­ies high, and is being paid for by the New Zea­l­and Trans­port Agency. It will be used primar­ily as new chan­ging rooms for the ever-increas­ing demands of inter­na­tion­al crick­et squads. If you have ever been under the R.A. Vance stand recently, you will know just how import­ant this is.

The offi­cial pur­pose of the new stand is to block noise and fumes com­ing from the fly­over. The fact that it will also block a fair bit of wind should not be ignored.

There has also been a lot of stir­ring about the effect of this increased traffic noise at the ground. Devotees of crick­et there will know that the traffic noise is all part of the charm of the Basin. It is, after all, the country’s biggest round­about, and you rarely get an hour of play without some sirens circ­ling the venue.

Save the Basin are high-pro­file, organ­ised and com­mit­ted to the cause. But when one of their lead­ing cam­paign­ers tweets some­thing like “Still time to save Basin Reserve from fly­over & see Corey Ander­son play crick­et in Wel­ling­ton for 2015 World Cup”, you real­ise that they are not as con­nec­ted to the sport, or the ground, as they would have us believe. All Wel­ling­ton matches at next year’s World Cup are being played at West­pac Stadium.

While all this noise has been going on there is anoth­er major issue affect­ing the ground: the zom­bie-like status of the his­tor­ic Museum Stand. Its roof was red-stickered fol­low­ing the Christ­ch­urch quake, and the cost of strength­en­ing it is estim­ated to be in the vicin­ity of $6 mil­lion. Clearly, that will not raise its book value by any­thing like this amount.

While the Crick­et Museum remains intact (and this is an under­rated asset on the Wel­ling­ton museum scene), the stand itself can­not be used as it awaits its fate. The logic here appears to be that no prob­lem is so big that it can­not be deferred.

Tellingly, the Save the Basin group have been deaf­en­ingly quiet on this issue. They have not con­tac­ted those involved with the Crick­et Museum, which is a bit strange giv­en that they are the only her­it­age organ­isa­tion act­ively work­ing at the Basin.

So, Save the Basin, keep up the work with regards to inner-city trans­port issues. But please leave us crick­et fans, and lov­ers of the Basin, out of it. We can see right through your brand­ing and we feel a little used.


Graeme Beasley

One of those rare people: a born and bred Wellingtonian. And enough of a Wellingtonian to know how to pronounce Majoribanks Street. Has a soft spot for the Makara wind farm, the south coast and the bucket fountain, but refuses to toot the horn in the Mt Victoria tunnel. Very familiar in handling the full range of emotions generated by supporting Wellington sports team. Works in IT.

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