Blues set to build $4m high-tech training HQ
The Blues, who won only once away from home last season under coach Sir John Kirwan plan to move into the new facility later this year. Photo / Dean Purcell
Exclusive: Purpose-built Alexandra Park base part of franchise’s ambitious plans.
The Blues will today officially announce a new $4 million purpose-built training and administrative headquarters at Alexandra Park which the rugby franchise believes will take it to the next level in terms of success.
"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 said. "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition the entire Blues organisation towards achieving our long-term goals."
The Blues will move into the new Greenlane facility - leased from the Auckland Trotting Club for at least 15 years - this year. It will mean an end to their time at Unitec in Mt Albert, where they have been for the past 10 years.
The rugby franchise is understood to be relieved to be going - the Unitec facilities have become very tired, and wild rabbits have been a common sight around the buildings.
Blues chief executive Michael Redman said the organisation looked at several proposals before opting for Alexandra Park. The decision was ratified by the Blues board last year and formal consent was confirmed last week. Work will start in March.
"It's a milestone for the Blues," Mr Redman said. "This facility will help with retention of players and recruitment. The whole environment is important to players and coaches considering their futures so this can only be a good thing.
"One of the challenges of attracting players to Auckland, especially from smaller centres, is the cost of living, and having a base like ours could help sway their decisions."
The Blues won the last of their three titles in 2003 and have been dogged by inconsistency despite the playing talent at their disposal in New Zealand's biggest city. Last season, coach Sir John Kirwan's second, they won only once away from home.
"The new facility is not the total solution, however it aligns with our other investments in culture, identity and sports science," Mr Redman said.
Covering an approximate area of 1800sq m, the facility will have 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.
Blues coach John Kirwan. Photo / NZME.
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, the franchise's major province, will not be based there.
The Auckland Trotting Club said the new training facility would not cause any scheduling conflicts; rather, it offered "a unique partnership".
The Blues start the new season a week on Saturday when they host the Chiefs at North Harbour.
*$4 million purpose-built training and administrative headquarters at Alexandra Park.
*Covers an approximate area of 1800sq m.
*Rooms for seminars, medical and physiotherapy treatment, sports science and changing rooms.
*Offices for coaching, team management and administration.