If I can be so immodest, New Zealand’s second largest city is the sporting powerhouse of the nation, and Christchurch is still bereft of a half-decent stadium. That godforsaken piecemeal set up in Addington, Orangetheory, is the stadium equivalent of a freedom camp. It was only meant to be short-lived, but is now a manky, rag-tag overstayer. Positively third world for the sporting capital of New Zealand.
Ten years on from the killer quake, it’s embarrassing that the Christchurch Council is still faffing around with the concept design, arguing the toss over the seating capacity.
Four hundred and seventy three million dollars is the capped budget for the new arena. It’s long been agreed it will be a thirty thousand seater venue, of which five thousand seats are movable and temporary. Roll them out, on demand.
And of course, just like Dunedin’s Forysth Barr, the Christchurch facility will be enclosed, a tub-thumping cauldron for live sport and entertainment.
But now it transpires, there’s been a last minute cost blow out. They’re blaming the rocketing costs on materials and shipping. And the budget will only stretch to twenty five thousand seats. So today, the council convenes to thrash it out.
They should not settle for a substandard seating capacity. It will jeopardise the chance of securing regular Tier 1 All Blacks Tests – without shovelling out monstrous incentive fees to the Rugby Union.
Who’s to blame for this shambles? Many of those city councillors should look in the mirror.
Many of them despise this stadium – and rugby. They’d far prefer to plough this cash into wider and longer cycleways. The tragedy is the capital costs for this project have continued to grow and fester, while the council dithered. Eight years ago, Lianne Dalziel and friends sabotaged the project by kicking it into touch for ten years. They could have got this anchor project built years ago, at half the cost.
This whole saga is amateur hour on a grand scale. Frankly, the surrounding district councils in greater Christchurch should now chip in to boost the capital budget.
This project’s integrity is on the line, without decent seating capacity. Don’t betray the hopes and dreams of Christchurch. Don’t downgrade the stadium.