The stadium's grandstands and terraces were built in 1916, and it became the home of rugby league in Auckland from 1921. It was named after James Carlaw, the chairman of the Auckland Rugby League managing committee who secured the land in 1920 and developed the ground further.
The ground was officially opened on 25 June 1921 and City Rovers defeated Maritime 10-8 on the opening day in front of 7,000 fans. Herb Lunn scored the first try and Eric Grey kicked the first goal on the ground.
The Auckland Rugby League spent ₤4,322 on capital expenditure in developing the ground. The ground was purchased for $200,000 in 1974.
During its long history it hosted many matches in various Rugby League World Cups. The stadium capacity was officially listed as 17,000 when it closed in 2002 due to health and safety reasons. Between 1924 and 1999 Carlaw Park hosted sixty-eight Test matches. The largest Test crowd was an estimated 28,000 during the 1928 Great Britain tour.
In August 2006 the Auckland Rugby League reached an agreement to lease the property off to be developed as a retirement home. No development has started as of August 2007. However the site has been officially 'handed over' in August 2007 in a ceremony involving Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Carlaw Park was one of the venues under consideration for Stadium New Zealand, a proposed stadium to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Complications over the lease of the property, the requirement for additional land to be taken from Auckland Domain, and the proximity of the heavy traffic on Stanley Street led to other options being preferred by the Government. The backers of Carlaw Park hosting the Cup secured NZ$200 million for its possible development, but the government finally chose Eden Park to host the World Cup games.
Carlaw Park has now been replaced by commercial buildings and a multi-storey car park, since 2008. It is also the site of the Carlaw Park Student Village complex of apartments, belonging to the University of Auckland, which opened in February 2014.