It was 2014 that Spark announced its partnership with Kiwi NBA player Steven Adams and the Auckland Council to open five basketball courts around Auckland in a campaign called ‘The Boroughs’, and last week, it finally came good on that promise with the opening of the East Auckland court.
On Thursday, the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board was joined by Auckland Council representatives, Spark staff, local Tamaki Regeneration Company representatives and basketball teams from neighbouring Tāmaki College to cut the ribbon and open its new, community basketball court at Elstree North Reserve in Glen Innes, which has been nicknamed ‘The Post Office’ by locals.
Like the first four in North, West, South and Central Auckland, the court comes with free Spark WiFi and is part of the telco’s initiative to get younger people interested in the brand.
Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board member Chris Makoare said the board was really pleased to be able to partner with Spark to create the court in Glen Innes.
“The purpose of 'The Boroughs' project, ‘to create spaces where Auckland young people could engage with a sport they love, in the ways they wanted to,’ fits perfectly with the board’s priority to provide opportunities for people in our community to increase physical activity through leisure activities.”
Spark’s head of brand, communications and experience, Sarah Williams, adds the company was thrilled to deliver the new facility to the Glen Innes community.
“We hope local families and young people embrace the new space, take pride in it and enjoy it as their own," she says.
“For us, this court is pretty special as it marks the completion of a project we’ve put a lot of work into with Auckland Council and communities across the city. It’s been a huge privilege to do this, and we’ve been truly humbled to start seeing these spaces used in amazing ways by their communities.”
Seeing the spaces used must also be a relief for Spark as its faced criticism throughout the project due to delays in consent, planning and construction meaning the first court in South Auckland was opened in 2015 several months behind schedule. The following three in Albany, Avondale and Victoria Park didn’t open until December last year.
With pressure mounting from those looking forward to the courts, in June last year, the telco was forced to front its error and hand responsibility over to Auckland Council.
"We weren't really experts in that field... The key learning there is that we should have partnered with the experts," Spark marketing general manager Clive Ormerod told Stuff.
"We're disappointed in taking too long or taking longer than we had hoped on the first court and we've been really transparent on why that's happened and what we learnt from that.”
Despite the criticism, basketball fans were quick to make the most of the courts upon their completion and so far over 40,000 have used the free WiFi.