Chch morally obliged to repair AMI Stadium

18:00, Oct 25 2012

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton said this week that city councillors have a "strong moral obligation" to back a new rugby stadium within the four avenues of central Christchurch.

Actually, Christchurch City Council and Cera have a strong moral obligation to repair the damaged AMI stadium, if possible, and build a new arena only as a last resort.

And, let's agree, a strong moral obligation is a long way from a clear legal duty.

Christchurch hasn't agreed to build a new rugby stadium. The community has not been consulted.

Democratic consent has not been granted. Money has not been raised. Contracts are not signed.


Sutton's moral obligation apparently comes from council's generalised  approval of Christchurch Central Development Unit's 100-day blueprint for the city.

But councillors haven't even voted yea or nay on the blueprint (because its not theirs to approve or change).

The only other sources of moral obligation are the work underway by Cera, CCDU and city council.

According to Sutton, interim negotiations with owners of the 97 land parcels in the stadium footprint have begun. And presumably council chief executive Tony Marryatt's professionals are working with the CCDU behind the scenes.

It would be unfortunate if this hard work was wasted, but the manhours don't stack up economically.

AMI Stadium's insurer, Civic Assurance, reportedly has engineering reports stating damaged AMI Stadium can be fixed for $45 million. CCDU has proposed a new covered, 35,000-seat stadium.

It hasn't been costed, but reports that $500m will be needed are weird.

Dunedin's new covered, 30,000-seat stadium cost $224m including a four per cent overrun. An extra 5000 seats in Christchurch more than doubles the price?

In any event, the difference between a $45m repair and a $200m-$500m new build is morally significant. And if we assume the repair bill triples, to $135m, it's still morally significant.

Christchurch and New Zealand can't afford a new rugby arena if the old stadium - not that far away in Phillipstown - is fixable.

If that screws the blueprint, so be it.

And Marryatt's take on all this?

"The new stadium is going to be built because that's what the recovery plan says," he told The Press this week.

Discuss in the comments below.

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