One of New Zealand's Most Famed Sports Stadiums Is Doomed

Five years after the terrible Christchurch Earthquake, the future of the city's greatest stadium looks to have been decided.
14 December 2016, 10:55am
Photo via Field Theory

This article was originally published by AUNZ

In a move that will likely consign Lancaster Park to rubble, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel has described the famed sports stadium as "uneconomic to repair", five years after a city-wide earthquake that took 185 lives.

The ground – also known as AMI Stadium – had been insured for NZ$143million (£81.5m), though Dalziel told The Press that it could cost up to NZ$275million (£157m) to repair.

"The advice we are receiving is that it isn't economic to repair Lancaster Park. Even if we spent $100m more than it was insured for we'd still have a question mark over the costings."

The comments come after Dalziel and other council representatives toured the stadium last week. According to a report, the Deans Stand had sunk up to 50cm in some areas, while the Paul Kelly Stand and Tui Stand had moved around 30cm and 46cm, respectively.

VICE Sports AUNZ conducted an extensive investigation into the state of Lancaster Park in May, and the likelihood of its repair – or replacement. The groundswell then was to tear down the stadium and replace it on a smaller scale.

That now appears to be likely. The Christchurch City Council will meet next week to decide whether to begin preparations for the stadium's destruction and look at the future usage of the property. Lancaster Park's demolition will cost around NZ$20million (£11m), according to Dalziel.

Last December, the council reached a NZ$635million (£362m) settlement with its insurers, banking the money in February. It was then thought a decision on Lancaster Park's future would be on the way, given the stadium was one of the largest claims.

Looks like it's good bye to Lancaster Park.

— Barnaby Bennett (@mrbarnabyb)December 8, 2016

A new 35,000-seat stadium was widely proposed following the earthquake with government funding for it likely, though there has been little movement on those plans.

Canterbury Rugby boss Hamish Riach said he was happy that the council finally acknowledged Lancaster Park's future – but was still waiting for a sign that a new stadium would be on the way.

"We've been waiting for the council to get to the point they are now close to getting to, and at the end of the day if Lancaster Park is uneconomic to repair, that is an important step to make in a process to resolve the future needs of Christchurch," he told The Press.

"We've always said the city should have a multi-purpose arena that any number of sports can use and enjoy, and that hasn't changed."