Stadium puts Dunedin back in test match mix

Last updated 08:15 19/03/2008
Fairfax Media
Incoming NZRU boss Steve Tew says the national game is in good health.

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Dunedin is set to return to the test rugby schedule with the city council's decision to back a new $188 million roofed stadium.
Dunedin debates new stadium

Christchurch, however, is still viewed as the South Island's premier test venue by New Zealand rugby chiefs.

The Dunedin council on Monday night voted to pour $91.4m into a new stadium, subject to conditions.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said the council's decision sent a signal that Dunedin was serious about hosting All Blacks games.

"Building a brand-new facility with a roof is an exciting option to consider," he said. "Clearly, they will qualify for a test match."

Dunedin had been off the list of test venues since 2005 because Carisbrook "was not the stadium we would like it to be", Tew said.

The city was awarded a Springboks test in July this year as a "one-off" in recognition of the work on the new stadium project.

Tew said a new stadium would put Otago in the same mix as Waikato and North Harbour.

"No doubt there are challenges for rugby in the lower part of the South Island," Tew said. "Historically, they've always been part of the New Zealand rugby mix, and we want to see the game survive, flourish and prosper down there."

He said Christchurch's AMI Stadium was a bigger ground, and part of the NZRU's criteria for allocating tests was financial return, as well as spreading games throughout the country.

After its redevelopment, the seating capacity of AMI Stadium will be 41,000, with the ability to expand into the mid-40,000s.

Dunedin's proposed stadium will have a maximum capacity of 30,300.

Vbase Venue Management Group, which runs AMI Stadium, the Christchurch Convention Centre, the Westpac Centre and the Christchurch Town Hall, does not see a Dunedin stadium as a threat.

"We have a very strong and diverse portfolio as opposed to one venue to appeal to different audiences," chief executive Bryan Pearson said.

"The success or otherwise of the Dunedin stadium is a matter for Dunedin," Pearson said while wishing the Carisbrook Stadium Trust well.

What are your thoughts on Dunedin's new stadium? A good thing for rugby? A good thing for the city? Post your comments below.

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