Key: $5m will ensure world-class World Cup
Next year's Cricket World Cup received a $5 million boost yesterday, a large chunk of which will be used for Christchurch's opening ceremony.
That news is a major fillip for the city as the ceremony will be beamed to millions worldwide and will act as a highly choreographed advertisement for all things Christchurch.
Christchurch hosts the tournament's first game, between New Zealand and 1996 tournament winners Sri Lanka on February 14, and the opening ceremony is believed to be pencilled in for two days prior, also at Hagley Oval.
Speaking yesterday before the start of the second test between New Zealand and India in Wellington, Prime Minister John Key confirmed the cash injection.
"We are very committed to making sure this is a good event. We're doing a number of things. One is we're putting $5m into the event to make sure that this, particularly in terms of the opening ceremony, is a world-class event."
While Key proudly spoke of the Government's input yesterday, it is understood the money was granted to world cup organisers last year at the time of match allocations, but not announced for fear it would be lost among other news.
Cricket World Cup New Zealand boss Therese Walsh confirmed there were no more hoops to jump through to develop of Hagley Oval after resource consent was received last year.
A code of compliance around a change in the terms regarding the use of the temporary facilities was sorted and organisers had received their official licence to hold an event in the city.
"Obviously, it still needs to be built, but that's under control and on track," she said of the the Hadlee Pavilion and Hagley Oval ground development.
The foundation for the pavilion is due to go down soon and the embankment is well under way.
As well as the opening ceremony, the Government's money will be spent on "fan activation, business leveraging and tourism leveraging", Walsh said.
It will involve school programme as organisers hope to mirror the momentum and public support achieved by the Rugby World Cup, starting with children.
"That sort of thing grows awareness," she said. "We're wanting to get people more excited about the event and them talking about it, kids talking to parents et cetera."
Meanwhile, public ticket sales opened yesterday at 2pm with the New Zealand-Sri Lanka game expected to be the most popular and quickest-selling match of the 14-team tournament, which features three matches in seven cities on either side of the Tasman, before the knockout stages.