New Christchurch stadium could be built sooner than expected
The Christchurch City Council is considering building a new events stadium earlier than planned.
It was originally hoped to be ready for the 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour, but is currently pitched for the mid-2020s.
On Tuesday, in his last act as Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister, Gerry Brownlee said the Crown would fund a pre-feasibility study for the "multi-use arena", and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said there was a "distinct possibility" the council would bring the project forward.
A new completion date would not be available until the pre-feasibility study was completed, as changing the dates would require a Long Term Plan amendment and public consultation, Dalziel said.
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The decision to demolish Lancaster Park meant the council could consider the opportunities for the arena-designated land, she said.
Brownlee declined to fund a business case for the stadium last year, saying it would be a waste of money until the council stated clear support for the project. The council had faced some "big challenges" with its budget, but had worked through all of that, he said on Tuesday.
Brownlee said a feasibility study would follow once there was a "firm proposal".
He hoped the study would give a "sense of scale", potential usage, and an early look at the cost of operation for the arena.
It should ensure a new stadium "does not become a burden to ratepayers", he said.
New Brighton retail assistant Eilish Bamber-Sawyer, 20, said Christchurch's current venues had the city covered and there were more important things to consider before building a new stadium.
"There are people that still need homes, so is a stadium really needed?"
Travel expert Neha Paranjape, 30, said Christchurch needed a covered multi-purpose facility that could be used year-round.
"It's been so long since the earthquake and Christchurch residents are frustrated that nothing is happening. Having this fast-tracked will give us something to look forward to."
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said he had not heard anything about the construction date potentially changing, but any suggestion it could be brought forward "should be celebrated".
Riach said a permanent international multi-purpose arena would be better than the temporary AMI Stadium in Addington for rugby and for the city.
"This isn't a rugby story, this is a story about a city going through the work it needs to to replace major pieces of public infrastructure that that we already had [before] the earthquake."
Christchurch Stadium Trust chief executive Tim Shannahan said AMI Stadium was originally designed to last five years from 2012 to 2017.
The council recently granted building consent for $1 million of additional work to extend the life of the stadium to 2022, and the Christchurch Stadium Trust, which owns the temporary facility, has a budget of $500,000 for annual maintenance.
"It will be coming to the end of its life," Dalziel said.
"It was built in 100 days. It has hosted concerts as well as important sports games and other events. A covered multi-use arena, though, would give us so much more potential."
In the 2012 central city Blueprint Plan, three city blocks bounded by Hereford, Tuam, Madras, and Barbadoes streets were designated for the stadium.
Under the cost-sharing agreement, the Government would pay for the land and the council would pay up to $253m to build the facility.
The Christchurch Stadium Trust would conduct the pre-feasibility study and report to the council and incoming Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner by the end of July, Brownlee said.
Brownlee believed the arena should include hospitality and commercial space so its use was "maximised".
The Government has purchased most of the designated land and is in negotiations over the remaining parcels.