Story: Sports venues

As sport became more professional, sports venues did too. While early spectators had to stand up to watch their favourite game, in the 2000s they can sit in comfort in a fully enclosed stadium.

Story by Jock Phillips
Main image: WestpacTrust Stadium, Wellington

Story Summary

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Early sports grounds

British settlers established public sports grounds in the mid-to-late 1800s. They included Hagley Park in Christchurch and the Domain in Auckland.

Because spectators couldn’t be charged a fee to watch sports in public grounds, some cricket clubs set up their own grounds, including:

  • Basin Reserve, Wellington (1868)
  • Carisbrook, Dunedin (1880)
  • Lancaster Park, Christchurch (1881)
  • Eden Park, Auckland (1902)

Rugby was also played at these grounds.

Major stadiums

Interest in competitive sports grew in the 1900s. Many new grounds opened and larger grandstands were built in the main centres and provincial cities. These were also sometimes used for concerts or other large gatherings.

From around 1990 more sports became professional, and spectators demanded better seating and facilities. A lot of money was spent upgrading major grounds, or building new ones such as Westpac Stadium in Wellington and the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Some, such as Eden Park, were upgraded especially for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Other sporting venues

Many sports take place in natural venues, such as beaches for surfing or mountains for skiing. Some, for example cycling tours and motor rallies, take place on roads.

Other sports venues include:

  • courses for horse racing and motor racing
  • golf courses
  • velodromes for cycling
  • tennis clubs
  • bowling clubs
  • swimming pools.
How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Sports venues', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/sports-venues (accessed 16 December 2018)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 5 Sep 2013