Dunedin stadium important for NZ - Key
Dunedin's new stadium has been given the official opening treatment by Prime Minister John Key and local iwi today.
Key stepped on to the massive pitch 7am and while there was no rain to worry about, the cover did not manage to keep out the city's early morning chill.
Unveiling the Forsyth Barr Stadium foundation stone, Key said it was an important stone for Dunedin and for the people of the South Island.
The stadium is the only roofed, multi-purpose arena with a natural grass turf in the world.
Key said the Government had been keen to stump up with some funding for the stadium from the early days of its inception. The facility received $15 million in Government funding towards its $188 million-plus cost.
Key said he expected the stadium to play its part in the delivery of a "real New Zealand'' during the 2011 Rugby World Cup and to provide a legacy well beyond the tournament.
The tail-end of a two-year construction timetable continues on the periphery of the stadium and on the annexed University of Otago's University Plaza sporting complex. Crews were working around the clock to finish it before cup pool games.
This afternoon University of Otago's Knox College and Selwyn College rugby teams were the first two sides to clash on the new ground. On Sunday, North Otago meets West Coast in another feature rugby match.
From August 17, the stadium becomes Otago's home ground for ITM provincial rugby competition games.
The Wellington Phoenix get their turn on the new turf on August 20, playing the Brisbane Boars.
Then, from October 10, temporarily becomes the Otago Stadium as the venue for Dunedin's Rugby World Cup Pool games. Teams from England, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Argentina, and Georgia will be the first international sides to play there.