22 Jul 2021

Christchurch councillors to vote on new stadium capacity

6:28 am on 22 July 2021

A Christchurch city councillor says it's time to rethink how sporting events are funded in New Zealand, ahead of an extraordinary meeting in the city today.

The last building left on the site, the NG building

Site of the Christchurch stadium. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Councillors will decide if the city's multimillion-dollar covered stadium will slash its seating capacity.

An initial concept for the multi-use arena suggested it should have a capacity of 30,000 seats.

But the concept is over budget and the consortium behind the arena wants to cut the number of seats to 25,000, within the $473 million budget.

The forecast cost for the original design could be somewhere around $88.8m and $131.4m over budget.

Councillor Yani Johanson said cities are locked in an arms race to build ever-bigger stadiums and something needs to change.

"We're all competing against each other, we're driving up the price to subsidise professional sports because of the unsustainable model that they have," he said.

New Zealand Rugby has warned the council that 25,000 seats would make the arena too small for major international rugby games unless a substantial incentive fee was on offer.

The council report has laid out two options for councillors to consider.

The preferred (on budget) option sees a seating capacity of at least 25,000 for sports, and 36,000 for large concerts, with a concourse, maximum premium seating, corporate spaces and optimal seating comfort.

"Whilst a bid incentive fund will be required regardless of the arena's capacity, additional funding may be required to compensate for reduced capacity," the report said.

Option two sees a sports capacity of 30,000, large concert capacity of 41,000, a north-end stage pocket and no level one concourse.

This option is expected to be $7m over budget.

Options ruled out include seating capacity of less than 20,000, seating capacity greater than 30,000, uncovered or drip-line roof options, relocating to Lancaster Park and terminating the project.

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