Will there be room for Christchurch cricket fans?

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014

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Thousands of cricket fans may have to stay in motorhomes or be billeted in homes when they visit Christchurch for the Cricket World Cup next year.

The tournament’s three Christchurch games in February 2015 coincide with the busiest month of the annual tourist season when an estimated 150,000 visitors stay. 

The cricket will add many more to the mix, putting pressure on an accommodation sector still getting back on its feet after the quakes.

Canterbury and Christchurch Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said fans would have to stay in places like Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs and Ashburton if beds could not be found closer to Christchurch. But fans could be home billeted and tracts of bare land could become temporary motorhome parks.

He planned to conduct a thorough exercise in the next two months to work out the travel patterns of cricket visitors and the estimated shortfall in visitor beds but hoped Cantabrians would consider opening their homes to visitors.

The motorhome concept was considered for the last major sporting event planned in the city – the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Hunter cited the example of Napier which successfully used home billeting when hosting the popular Mission Estate concerts. Visitors next year would see the rebuild taking shape, with work on nine of the 16 anchor projects expected to be well under way, more bars and restaurants open and a new-look Hagley Oval where three pool games, including the opening match, would be staged.

An estimated 250 bars and restaurants had opened in the past 18 months and the city’s nightlife was starting to take shape again, he said. ‘‘We’re certainly capable of dealing with the hospitality needed for a tournament like [the cricket]. It’s the beds that is going to be a challenge.’’

Hunter said the other major sporting event next year – the Fifa under-20 World Cup – would be easier to host because fewer visitors were expected and the tournament was being staged in the quieter winter season.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said ‘‘there is no alternative’’ but to have confidence the city’s infrastructure would be in good order and ready to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors. ‘‘Whatever has happened in the past we have these hosting rights and we have an obligation to live up to the expectations that have been set and I’m determined we will.’’

Meanwhile, documents obdhtained by ifThe Pressnf show the economic benefit is ‘‘reliably predhdicted’’ to exceed $17 million. The previous council agreed to put $1.05m towards the event, including $850,000 in sponsorship and $200,000 ‘‘in kind support’’.

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Council recreation and sports manager John Filsell said hosting Cricket World Cup matches gave Christchurch the chance to tell the world  it was ‘‘back in the business of hosting major events’’.


- The Press

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