The Crater

Capacity50 000
Country New Zealand
CategoryDesign outdated
Design Phil O’Reilly


The Crater – design description

What preceded the vision for an 'underwater' stadium in Auckland?

In 2006, the concept of a new stadium to be built at Bledisloe Wharf in Auckland city centre was conceived. The 'Stadium New Zealand' project was a government initiative looking for an alternative to upgrading the old Eden Park ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with an initial rendering prepared by architects Warren and Mahoney.

The new stadium was ultimately not built (Eden Park was expanded prior to the World Cup and received a new south stand). However, the design for the new national stadium that emerged in 2006 was the trigger for further debate about a new stadium in Auckland.

When was the concept for 'The Crater' conceived?

In 2017, designer Phil O'Reilly created a new concept, based on the one created in 2006. It was virtually the same vision, with one big difference – the stadium would be dug into the ground, with the stands located below the water level of the bay. The unique design was dubbed 'The Crater'.

Tucking underground was intended to address objections to the scale of the design proposed in 2006. In this way, the stadium was not to disrupt Auckland's skyline or exceed the height standards for buildings in the area.

What did the vision for 'The Crater' include?

The concept was prepared in two options. In the first, large cruise ships were to dock next to the stadium. The second option was for the stadium to be fully covered. If the concept were to be implemented, it would be a unique world-scale attempt to fit a large stadium entirely below ground level (due to the proximity of a body of water, there was even talk of an 'underwater' stadium). The facility was to accommodate between 30,000 and 50,000 spectators.

Phil O'Reilly further argued that the realisation of his vision need not necessarily be more expensive than building a stadium in the conventional way. The project required the creation of a huge, waterproof 'box', but beyond that, a lot of costs were dropped, associated with the erection of supporting structures, for example.

What was the impact of 'The Crater' vision on the subsequent development of the debate about a new stadium in Auckland?

The concept was a loose proposal presented to the local authorities, as part of a wider discourse taking place about the creation of a new, representative stadium in Auckland.

The project gained traction in the media and, although not realised, was the inspiration for another vision, unveiled in 2018 ('Auckland Waterfront Stadium'), prepared by the Auckland Waterfront Consortium (Phil O'Reilly was also involved in the development of this concept).