Sports Secretary Grant Robertson Announces $19 Million Boost for World Cup Venues

The government will invest approximately $19 million to support upgrades to 30 of the 32 potential sports facilities earmarked for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Communities across the country will benefit from new, improved sports facilities as a result of co-hosting the tournament in New Zealand.

The $19 million investment includes upgrades to 30 of the 32 potential sports facilities earmarked for the tournament – ​​including improvements to the pitch, lighting and facilities, and gender-neutral locker rooms.

Sports Minister Grant Robertson announces new funding of $19 million for the upgrade of several sports facilities in New Zealand ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

ROBERT KITCHEN/Things

Sports Minister Grant Robertson announces new funding of $19 million for the upgrade of several sports facilities in New Zealand ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The locations and municipalities also contribute to the costs of these upgrades.

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The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will host four stadiums: Eden Park, Waikato Stadium, Wellington Regional Stadium and Dunedin Stadium.

The Auckland region is the biggest winner, receiving a combined regional total of $8.6 million – $6.4 million from the Ministry of Affairs, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and $2.2 million from Sport New Zealand through New Zealand football.

The Wellington region will receive $6 million, Dunedin $1.6 million and Hamilton $1.2 million.

Wellington's Sky Stadium receives $4.1 million from the government for the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Joe Allison/Getty Images

Wellington’s Sky Stadium receives $4.1 million from the government for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Other cities that can take advantage of this, which only host team base camps, are Christchurch ($325,000), Palmerston North ($325,000), Napier ($300,000) and Tauranga ($115,000).

Wellington Regional Stadium has been awarded $4.1 million, Auckland’s Eden Park $2.4 million, Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium $220,000 and Dunedin Stadium $135,000.

Shane Harmon, director of the Wellington Regional Stadium, said the money will be used to upgrade the changing rooms so that they are more private and accessible to all genders.

Lighting will also be converted to LED bulbs, half of which are needed, and will help reduce the stadium’s emissions footprint.

The FIFA Football World Cup is the third major women’s sporting event to be hosted in New Zealand. Cricket grounds and rugby facilities have also benefited from previous funding to ensure they meet standards in time for the Cricket and Rugby World Cups. The latter starts on October 8 in Auckland.

Sports Secretary Grant Robertson said hosting the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup is important.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the largest women’s sporting event in the world. Hosting an event of this magnitude will bring significant social and economic benefits to Aotearoa, New Zealand and leave a lasting legacy for football and women’s sport in this country,” said Robertson.

“These upgrades are critical to ensuring the tournament’s success, but will also benefit local communities, football clubs and many different sports codes that use these facilities, which is another good reason to invest in them.

Kylie Hancock, 15, Lucie Wells, 15, and Ellie Johnson 16, of Wellington Phoenix Academy with Secretary of Sport Grant Robertson.

ROBERT KITCHEN/Things

Kylie Hancock, 15, Lucie Wells, 15, and Ellie Johnson 16, of Wellington Phoenix Academy with Secretary of Sport Grant Robertson.

“They will also put us in a stronger position when bidding to host major international events in the future.”

He said sportswomen he has spoken to before have shared stories of ‘inappropriate’ facilities, and while this area of ​​sport may have been neglected in the past, it is now a priority.

New Zealand Football’s General Manager for the Women’s World Cup, Legacy and Inclusion Paula Hansen said the improved facilities – including more privacy – send a message that sport is inclusive.

“We strongly see that these improvements benefit all genders. We know we have tamariki and rangatahi who don’t shower after the games, and we want them to be active, we want them to be involved. If they don’t feel comfortable and don’t feel safe and have enough privacy to shower, that means they’re missing out on the total experience that sport offers,” she said.

Phoenix Football Academy members Kylee Hancock, Lucie Wells and Ellie Johnson attended the announcement in Porirua Park. All three said they have experienced changing rooms that were not suitable, and the funding will make a huge difference to their sporting experience.

“There have been several times where we have entered a locker room that was dirty and filthy. It will be great,” Hancock said.

Wells said you don’t feel welcome if you have to use changing rooms that aren’t made for that. “Women should get just as much good stuff as men,” she said.

For Johnson, it ensures she stays in football, and that will benefit the generations that come after her.

Jane Patterson, Chief Operating Officer of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for New Zealand, said it was an incredibly exciting day.

“Obviously the World Cup is all about the event and a moment to show off, but this opportunity to leave a legacy for the community is an integral part of the whole thing,” she said.

“Fifa is determined to meet the standards. That’s a great story and how that flows into what we see today is part of that story. The football community and other sports will all benefit.”

For the first time in the tournament’s history, FIFA has also introduced Team Base Camps – headquarters for each team with accommodation and training facilities.

There are 21 locations in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Dunedin, Rotorua, Napier, Palmerston North, Tauranga and Christchurch for Team Base Camps. Of these, 16 will be selected and used by teams throughout the tournament.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will take place from July 20 to August 20, 2023.

Hamilton and Auckland will also host the first FIFA Women’s World Cup play-off tournament from February 17-23 next year to determine the final three qualifiers for the tournament.

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