‘Really close to the action’: First glimpse at Christchurch’s $533m stadium

Striking new images of Christchurch’s planned half-a-billion-dollar stadium have been praised by sports and event organisations, with excitement being heaped on how close spectators will get to the action.

New images released on Friday show the preliminary design of the 30,000-seat stadium that has been worked on throughout 2021.

The project team now has to verify the costs and identify any risks associated with the design, which should be done by the end of the year.

Christchurch City Council project lead Alistair Pearson told Stuff the team working on the design was aware of the $533 million budget and intended to stay within it.

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“The word ‘blowout’ shouldn’t occur,” he said.

“I’m confident we’ll meet the budget … provided there’s no further significant increases in the price of steel and shipping, or disruptions to the supply chain.”

Unlike previous images of mere concepts, the structure in the new pictures is not expected to change much in the future. The next design phase will be finalising smaller details within the structure itself.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge said the new pictures made the stadium look “bright and airy and really intimate”.

This image shows how the EFTE-plastic roof covers the northern end of the structure, to allow sunlight in for the grass.

Christchurch City Council/Supplied

This image shows how the EFTE-plastic roof covers the northern end of the structure, to allow sunlight in for the grass.

“You look like you’re really close to the action.”

Mansbridge said the shadows created by the roof would be something to work with designers on, but he noted most Crusaders games would be played in the evening anyway.

The Crusaders had been involved in several workshops about the stadium’s interior and their feedback had been incorporated.

Mansbridge said he was nervous about delays and costs, but the photos showed the stadium appeared to be more compact on site, “which might speak why the council appear to be very confident around costs”.

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge says the images make the stadium look “bright and airy and really intimate”.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge says the images make the stadium look “bright and airy and really intimate”.

The final preliminary design should be presented to city councillors at a meeting in January, with construction beginning in July. The stadium is scheduled to open in June 2025.

Next week city councillors will also be asked to authorise some early onsite remediation work, sign off a document clearly explaining the governance board’s role, and decide whether to accept a gifted Māori name for the stadium land.

Venues Ōtautahi chief executive Caroline Harvie-Teare said the stadium would be striking and “genuinely multi-use”.

“We’ll be able to have good sporting events, concerts, expos, corporate functions,” she said.

The stadium is set to open in June 2025.

Christchurch City Council/Supplied

The stadium is set to open in June 2025.

A function lounge in the west stand could be used for banquet dinners or cocktail functions, she said. This room, as well as corporate boxes above, would have a large terrace looking out over the field.

“This venue we’ve been waiting for, as the people of Christchurch, for such a long time. It’s the last of the anchor projects, it’s a real symbol of recovery post-earthquake,” Harvie-Teare said.

“Actually seeing these images makes it real.”

Sport Canterbury chief executive Julyan Falloon said the natural light coming into the stadium was incredible. He was also complimentary of the bowl-style seating bringing spectators close to the action and the site’s surrounding green space.

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Christchurch City Council has approved plans for a 30,000-seat stadium after councillors caved to public pressure.

“This is something special,” he said.

New Zealand Rugby’s general manager of professional rugby and performance, Chris Lendrum, said the stadium was an exciting prospect for the city and region.

“New Zealand Rugby looks forward to seeing the project come to life, and eventually watching our teams play at the venue.”

The preliminary design has been months in the making.

The preliminary design itself is mostly complete and the project team is now just verifying the costs of it and identifying any risks.

Christchurch City Council/Supplied

The preliminary design itself is mostly complete and the project team is now just verifying the costs of it and identifying any risks.

The process was delayed in July, when an initial design came in $88.8m over budget, which led to a reduction in seats that was later overturned. In August, the budget was upped by $50m so the stadium could have 30,000 seats.

The stadium structure will be 232 metres long, 195m wide, and 36m at its highest point.

The rugby pitch will be orientated north to south.

Ngāi Tūāhuriri has gifted the name “Te Kaharoa” for this land – bordered by Madras, Hereford, Barbadoes and Tuam St, which is where the stadium will be built.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/Stuff

Ngāi Tūāhuriri has gifted the name “Te Kaharoa” for this land – bordered by Madras, Hereford, Barbadoes and Tuam St, which is where the stadium will be built.

The western stand is set to hold the corporate boxes, a function lounge, and a premium general area.

Thirty-two food and drink outlets are planned throughout the stadium.

Some seats at the northern end will be temporary – and can be removed to reveal a large concrete pad, where concerts will be set up. The maximum concert capacity will be 37,800.

Two large roller doors at this end of the stadium will allow equipment trucks to access the concert area.

Meanwhile, the land surrounding the stadium has been gifted the name of “Te Kaharoa” by Ngāi Tūāhuriri.

The name means “enduring strength”, and is only for the stadium land – the stadium itself may still be given a commercial name at a later date.

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