New stadium 'not set in stone'

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 24/10/2012
AMI Stadium October 17
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

POSSIBLE: Engineering work commission by insurer Civic Assurance shows the former AMI Stadium can be repaired for $45 million.

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Plans for a new Christchurch stadium within the four avenues are not set in stone, Roger Sutton says.

However, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive said city councillors have a "strong moral obligation" to back the location earmarked in central-city blueprint plans.

Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt this week said Lancaster Park would be demolished despite insurers believing the quake-damaged stadium could be saved.

The stadium would not be saved because a new 35,000-seat covered venue on the former Turners & Growers site was decided, he said.

Sutton said yesterday it would be "silly" to pull down a repairable stadium but saving Lancaster Park was "very unlikely".

"Our view at the moment is that [the disused stadium] is coming down and we are building a new stadium, but if the very unlikely happened and it was repairable, then we'll have to reopen that issue," he said.

Councillors would have the final say, but Sutton said his view was the council had agreed a new stadium would be on the blueprint's preferred site.

"While the information is that the stadium is coming down, I think people do feel that [councillors] are obliged to be part of building a new one," he said.

Land had been designated and "interim" negotiations with owners of the 97 land parcels in the stadium footprint had begun, Sutton said

Cr Tim Carter said the council's obligation was to "act in the best interests of its ratepayers".

It would "crazy" to spend "huge money" on building a new stadium if repair was possible, but he had seen no evidence of that.

"If the stadium is repairable for a small cost, then my view is that repairing the stadium would be acting in the best interests of the ratepayers. If it is not repairable and it needs to be rebuilt, then I think the best interests of the ratepayer would be continuing with the blueprint," Carter said.

Sutton said the stadium was not a high priority, but acknowledged the cost to ratepayers was a polarising issue.

"Right now, we haven't asked the council to commit vast sums of money for a new stadium," he said.

"There's just other things we need to make happen before that.

"Convention centre, pools - they are clearly a high priority - quite apart from making sure people get their houses fixed."

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- The Press

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