Council & City

Central Energy Trust Arena upgrade

Central Energy Trust Arena is already one of the most flexible sports and entertainment hubs in the country. Through phased projects between 2018 and 2022, we’re building on its existing success with new facilities to enhance and secure its future as a community and commercial venue worthy of attracting and delivering major events to entertain and activate a growing population.

The upgrade includes a new grandstand, corporate suites, an all-weather artificial turf, a new plaza and commercial entranceway, and purpose-built speedway pits. Watch our architect’s animated video to see an overview of our plans for phase one.

Major construction began in early May, in what was understood to be the first major local government project in New Zealand to begin post lockdown.

The total cost of the combined Arena redevelopment programme is just over $17.1 million. This includes everything from design, consultation and consenting, professional fees, through to construction. Central Energy Trust has contributed $1,078,000 towards the project, with Council funding the remainder.

Photo shows three city dignitaries in suits and hi-vis leaning on spades.

Mayor Grant Smith, Wiremu Te Awe Awe and Council CEO Heather Shotter at the project sod turning on Friday 8 May.

Construction will be completed within a year

These three separate projects will be constructed at the same time, but the speedway pits will be completed first, in time for post-Christmas racing. The pits, which line the Cuba Street side of the Arena, will be upgraded to concrete and asphalt surfaces, with water, power and lighting services installed. A green space next to the pits can also be used as a recreational area.

The entrance plaza will be the welcoming point for visitors to the Arena, and includes a large bridge that allows users to walk over the speedway pits on the way to their seats. The embankment work will see a better connection between the seating and grandstand, as well as a large ablution block that has been engineered to hold additional grandstand seating in the future. The plaza and embankment work will be complete in March 2021.

Both the construction and works will have a major economic benefit to our city

The lead contractor, Humphries Construction, is based in Palmerston North and approximately 90 per cent of the subcontractors are also based within the Manawatū. The remaining 10 per cent is due to those products or services not being available locally.

Completed work is a symbol of hope for our city

The results of these major upgrades will bring bigger and better entertainment options and international sporting events to Palmerston North, which will have major flow-on economic impacts for the region.

The Central Energy Trust Arena complex holds around 3,000 events each year and is home to 36 different sporting codes, with Speedway, Rugby, League, Basketball, Volleyball and Netball its main codes. It is arguably the nation's busiest Stadia, much more than the higher profile metro stadiums that are only used a few days a month at best.

This brings in more than 400,000 visitors each year, serving 300,000-plus people in the lower North Island. Many of these people live outside of Palmerston North and come here for an event, stay the night in local accommodation, eat out, and enjoy our recreational activities. In 2018, the NZ Superstock Teams Championships weekend alone contributed $5.2 million to our local economy.

Upgrading this facility will bring in more and bigger events, which will create and sustain jobs in our hospitality industry and provide a significant boost to our local economy.

You can read more about the rationale behind the project and what we aim to achieve in the Central Energy Trust Arena Masterplan.

Key benefits

  • Increased participation in sport and recreation
  • Showcases how the city and region values sports, activity and social connection
  • Reinforces the Arena as one of the best multi-sport facilities in New Zealand
  • A fit-for-purpose facility with overlapping functions
  • Increased capacity to support sell-out Speedway events
  • An attractive facility that will encourage promoters to bring high profile entertainment events to Manawatū
  • Improved seating standards and capacity to meet the needs of high profile events and provide an improved viewing experience for fans
  • Attracts international, national and local sports competitions and tournaments for all ages

Current projects

Cuba Street entrance 

Photo shows artist's illustration of redeveloped Arena with new concourse.

Overbridge from entrance plaza to Arena.

A welcoming, attractive entrance plaza will draw visitors to the main Arena entrance and ticket gates. A landscaped pedestrian area will connect with Arena 5 and, potentially, hospitality and commercial office space (we're undertaking feasibility studies for this phase of the project).

Photo shows artist's illustration of new ticket kiosk being built as part of the Arena upgrade.

Ticket kiosk at plaza entry.

Embankment redevelopment 

Photo shows artist's illustration of redeveloped embankment from ground level.

Upgrading the western concourse embankment will provide improved public movement around the venue and a level connection into the first floor of the existing grandstand.

Phase one of this project will connect the embankment to the existing grandstand. The south embankment will supply services such as toilets, food and beverage mobile units and a hardstand area for current seating.

We plan to build a new grandstand on top of this structure in future (subject to securing external funding).

Future developments

There are two potential additional projects that strongly link with the speedway pits and the embankment and entrance plaza:

  • A new south grandstand
  • A commercial building linked to the plaza bridge

We’ve carried out initial concept designs for these projects because they interlink with the three current projects.

Completed projects

All-weather turf

Photo shows drone footage of new astro turf at the arena.

The artificial turf is one of the first improvements to Central Energy Trust Arena as part of the masterplan. It is the first of its kind in the region.

Speedway pits 

New speedway pit facilities have been developed along the southern side of the Arena complex behind the new South Stand, next to Cuba Street, and opened in January 2021. These facilities include a mixture of green space, concrete and asphalt, as well as services paramount to successful speedway operation, such as water, power and lighting.

Photo shows aerial view of the new speedway pits between the track and Cuba Street.

The new speedway pits running parallel to Cuba Street.