Council rules out Lancaster Park repairs

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 22/10/2012

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Lancaster Park will be demolished even though insurers say the earthquake-damaged stadium can be saved, council chief executive Tony Marryatt says.

Marryatt said a new 35,000-seat roofed stadium will be built in Christchurch "because that's what the recovery plan says".

Insurer Civic Assurance last week said the former AMI Stadium could be repaired despite the Christchurch City Council writing off the ground and committing to a new stadium.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit's blueprint includes plans for a 35,000-seat covered venue at the former Turners and Growers site.

Marryatt told The Press the council would take a cash settlement below replacement value rather than return to the old ground.

"The new stadium is going to be built because that's what the recovery plan says," Marryatt said. "The only risk for council is we don't get the $143 million insurance that we would get if the facility was written off.

"The council has committed to putting a certain amount of funding into [a new covered stadium]. If we don't get the anticipated insurance payout, we're going to have to look at how we fund any shortfall."

Agreed settlement figures for the now-demolished Christchurch Convention Centre and QEII Park Recreation and Sport Centre were reached after similar "debate" was had with Civic.

"At this stage, we haven't got to that [with Lancaster Park], but from our point of view what we've budgeted for is that it can't be repaired and we get the full payout of $143m.

"If at the end of the day that isn't the outcome, and all parties agree that it could be repaired, then there'll be an amount that council will be paid, and it will be less than $143m. The issue for council will be the gap between those two figures."

Lancaster Park was the council's largest individual claim and reinsurers in Germany, Switzerland and the United States were "very interested" in the settlement, Marryatt said.

Of the council's larger Civic claims, only the convention centre and QEII had been settled.

Centennial Pool, the town hall, central library and former civic building in Tuam St were still to be resolved.

Marryatt said it was unusual for the council to have considered replacement of its major facilities in the annual plan before insurance issues were settled, but it could have taken up to a year.

"We're not sitting in an ideal world . . . and because a central-city plan has been developed we've had to make some assumptions."

He hoped claims for the major facilities would be settled by February.

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Civic chief executive Tim Sole said the engineers' work was highly technical.

"It will take some weeks for the council's engineers to assess whether the ideas put forward [to repair Lancaster Park] are workable, and if so, many more weeks after that to carry out costings," he said.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said Civic should release the report because of the public interest.

"They're going out there to say they can make it safe, so we need to know how they're going to make it safe," he said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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