Claims Lancaster Park is fixable rejected

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012
Lancaster Park
DON SCOTT

MEMORIES: Christchurch's once proud Lancaster Park is deteriorating by the day.

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and the Christchurch City Council have both poured cold water on suggestions Lancaster Park could be repaired.

Reports yesterday suggested engineering work commissioned by insurer Civic Assurance revealed the former AMI Stadium could be fixed for $45 million.

A repair could sink plans for a $500m covered sports stadium in the city.

However, the council moved to dismiss the suggestions.

Corporate services general manager Paul Anderson said he had seen no evidence the stadium could be saved.

"I think all insurers would say that they think it's repairable for within the sum insured. The advice we've had all indicates that to repair the stadium to as-new condition, which is what our policy allows, would cost more than the sum insured," he said.

Brownlee backed the council. He said Civic's view was "counter to all the information that's been out publicly up to this point".

"The insurers clearly would have a very difficult job of convincing the public that it can be made safe. The steward of the stadium, which is the Christchurch City Council, would need to be equally persuaded that it can be made safe," he said.

Any repair methodology would require Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority consideration, Brownlee said.

In April, the council released six options for repair or replacement, which ranged in cost from $49.6m after insurance to $144.6m.

The report said the method proposed for repairing the ground under the stands was untested and the cost did not justify the risk.

Civic Assurance chief executive Tim Sole did not return calls from The Press but earlier told The Star the ground could be returned to its pre-quake specifications for much less than its $135m insurance tag.

"The grounds looks terrible but you have to ignore that. The bulk of the stadium looks fine and you need someone to tell you it's not quite at the same level it was before," he said.

No exact repair figure had been decided, Sole said.

"There is no number provided, they've just said it can be repaired below the cost of the sum insured, and there's much more work to do. It's a big project, building or repairing a stadium," he later said on radio.

A covered 35,000-seat stadium on the former Turners and Growers site in Tuam St was included in the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) blueprint announced in July.

But a CCDU spokeswoman said the stadium was not a priority project.

"The design, cost and funding model is still to be worked through by the parties involved in the project, with the indicative schedule for it to be completed in 2017," she said.

Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network spokesman Mike Coleman said repairing Lancaster Park would be "outstanding".

"Let [Civic] rebuild it and get it sorted," he said. "We're in the beginning of recovery of the city, so the last thing you'd ever go near is a covered stadium, particularly one that's going to cost $550m.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to take pressure off ratepayers."

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Canterbury Rugby Football Union chief executive Hamish Riach, who pushed for a covered stadium, said that plan would be shelved if Lancaster Park was repaired.

- The Press

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