9 Feb 2015

Hagley Oval soon ready for Cricket World Cup

5:45 am on 9 February 2015

The final touches are being put to Hagley Oval, and hoteliers and bar owners are flat out as Christchurch prepares for the opening ceremony and the first game of the Cricket World Cup.

Hagley Oval

Hagley Oval Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

The opening game on Saturday at the Oval, between the Black Caps and Sri Lanka, has sold out. The venue can seat about 9000 people on the green surrounding the cricket ground alone, but with temporary seating that grows to about 20,000.

Christchurch City Council recreation sports manager John Filsell has been in charge of turning the village green pavilion into a world class cricket venue.

Work started on 12 January, and will continue right up till the opening game, Mr Filsell said.

"The whole point of the Hagley Oval was to retain its character as a large village green cricket oval, and of course you don't need twenty-thousand seats for that, you probably need less than half, but we did want something that we could add on to and produce a great, major tournament venue if we had to."

Temporary seating in the Hagley Oval.

Temporary seating in the Hagley Oval. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

Finishing touches such as laying down pathways, and spreading bark can only happen once all the big gear is gone from the construction site.

Hospitality Association Canterbury president Peter Morrison said the city had the accommodation to cope with the influx of visitors for big events like the Cricket World Cup, but was close to full capacity.

"It's always busy in February anyway, so accommodation was going to be busy in February, whether we had the Cricket World Cup or not.

"But there's a lot more New Zealanders coming to Christchurch for it, and a lot of them don't really use the bigger hotels, a lot of them use the motels, so it's great for the accommodation industry as a whole."

The royal couple inspected the 2015 Cricket World Cup trophy.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Catherine, inspecting the 2015 Cricket World Cup trophy in Christchurch last year. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

It is a good time of the year for tourism numbers in the central city, it will be good to see that filter out to the suburbs, said the owner of No.4 bar in Merivale, Shaun Halliwell.

The 300 volunteers working in Christchurch during the Cricket World Cup will direct spectators to parking and to their seats.

The 300 volunteers working in Christchurch during the Cricket World Cup will direct spectators to parking and to their seats. Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

"The centre of town gets a lot more than what we do. We're lucky, there's a lot of motels down Papanui Road, so we use them as a bit of a marketing area. But generally, January and February is a little bit quieter for us, so it's great to have the cricket on and have a lot more people in town."

Head of the Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, Therese Walsh, said 2000 volunteers were working in New Zealand, including 300 in Christchurch, and were ready for their varied tasks.

"They'll be directing spectators to their seats, to parking, helping with media and broadcasting, servicing sponsorships, helping with the VIPs - we've got a lot of people coming into town."

The opening ceremony starts at 6.30pm on Thursday in North Hagley Park and the first ball of the opening match will be bowled at 11am on Saturday.

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