End of an era for old grandstand
The Waikaraka Park Grandstand has finally been demolished. After almost 90 years as a local landmark, the ageing concrete structure was pulled down in September.
Despite popular belief that the grandstand was built by the US Army during World War II, it was actually constructed in the 1930’s. It hosted cricket, rugby union and rugby league matches after the war, and during redevelopment work at Eden Park in the 1950’s it was the home ground for the Auckland Rugby Union. Since 1967, it has been part of the Waikaraka International Speedway and home to the Auckland Stock and Saloon Car Club (ASSCC)
Over the last decade, problems with the structure have been apparent, starting with concrete falling from the façade and endangering patrons. In late 2014 it was declared structurally unsafe and closed to the public. Initially scheduled for demolition, there was a reprieve in early 2015 when a plan was put forward to repair the grandstand. However that was also rejected, and over the last five years there have been a series of frustrating delays while it was decided whether to demolish or save the structure. Meanwhile, the ASSCC and promoters have been unable to use its 2,500 seats, or the toilets and other facilities under the stands.
President of the ASSCC, Frank Irvine, says the demolition has “finally ended six years of frustration”. He is sad to see the grandstand and its history disappear, but after all the problems of the last few years, including reduced crowds and the extra costs, he is just relieved the club can finally move forward. Fortunately, before the contractors moved in, Frank was able to save some heritage features which the club will keep.
Frank is also pleased with the timing of the demolition, as it means the club will have enough time to install a temporary grandstand, seating 2,000 people, before the start of their season on October 24th.
To see a time lapse of the grandstand’s demolition you can visit the ASSCC Facebook page www.facebook.com/pg/waikarakaparkfamilyspeedway/videos/