Crown-City Council to fund Christchurch venue



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New Zealand Christchurch new stadium funding Image: Christchurch City Council

The Christchurch City Council in New Zealand and the Crown has agreed to jointly inject funds for a new stadium in the City. Both parties agreed to pump in a total of NZ$473 million towards the cost of building the new venue. The Council has committed $253 million and the Crown $220 million. Early works on the facility are expected to begin on-site in 2021.

The arena is one of the anchor projects included in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan and is going to be built in the City Centre on Crown-owned land bordered by Madras, Barbadoes, Hereford and Tuam streets.

To be in a position to stage events the year through, the venue will need to have a roof, a capacity to pack in 25,000 spectators (with the potential to add temporary seating for a further 5,000 in the future), a fixed rectangular pitch, and perfect acoustics.

To avoid noise pollution, noise limits will be introduced, any concert staged will have to be wrapped up by 11 pm, a cap of 15 concert days per calendar year to give residents certainty about the frequency of noisy events, and a requirement for a noise management plan.

The 25,000-seat, 36,000-capacity covered arena is the final anchor project in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan and will help to re-establish Christchurch’s reputation as a key events destination.

Before work gets on in full swing, the Council wants to amend the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan (CCRP) and the Christchurch District Plan so it can effectively tackle noise from the arena, while still supporting regeneration in the central City.

Stated Council Head of Planning and Strategic Policy David Griffiths, “The public has already had an opportunity to give feedback on what type of rules they think are needed to manage noise issues appropriately and will have another chance now that we have proposed what some of these could be.”

Griffiths added, “It is important these rules both enable the arena to operate successfully, and make a significant contribution not only to the City’s – and region’s – economy, but also manage noise effects for residents living close to the arena, and do not discourage further residential development or redevelopment in the central City.”

The Canterbury multiuse arena is scheduled to open by the end of 2024. From football World Cup qualifiers to big concerts and events, the Canterbury MultiUse Arena (CMUA) will be able to host them all.

Last year, Christchurch City Council Manager Major Facilities Vertical Capital Delivery, Alistair Pearson, observed, “The investment case shows there is a strong strategic case for building a multiuse arena. Without an arena, Christchurch cannot host big concerts or top-level sporting events. These events attract visitors and revenue to the City and are important for economic development. They also add to residents’ quality of life and make Christchurch an attractive, vibrant place to live.”

“At the moment we are not capturing our share of economic benefit from cultural and sporting events. A new arena will provide an anchor and catalyst for CBD recovery and revitalization and provide a focal point and an attraction for local and international visitors. Modeling undertaken for the investment case conservatively estimates that stays in Christchurch will increase by nearly 100,000 bed-nights per annum because of the domestic and international tourism driven by the new arena,” Pearson added.

Geotechnical investigations have been underway on the site since late 2018 to determine the condition of the land so that the same could be factored into the planning for the arena. Some site remediation work has also been carried out.

A venue boasting capacity of more than 30,000 has not been seen as a viable option due to spatial issues on the site.

The decision to build a new arena has been taken as the Christchurch Stadium was designed only as a temporary venue and is small – it has a seating capacity of only 18,000 – when compared with other venues around New Zealand. The facility is aging and the stadium is uncovered, resulting in poor patronage and performer experience.

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