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Not just rugby – the events Christchurch’s planned $683m stadium could host

A render of what's Christchurch 30,000-seat covered stadium will look like, if it gets built.

Christchurch City Council/Supplied

A render of what’s Christchurch 30,000-seat covered stadium will look like, if it gets built.

Boxing, tennis, esports, trade shows and banquet dinners – along with rugby and concerts, all will be possible at Christchurch’s planned multimillion, multi-use stadium, its future operator says.

The plan for a roof is also seen as a key feature, as it will reduce the risk of a concert being marred by bad weather.

To get a new 30,000-seat stadium in central Christchurch by April 2026, the Christchurch City Council will have to spend another $150 million to cover the recently revealed budget shortfall.

Christchurch ratepayers have until July 5 to tell the council whether it should spend the money, re-evaluate the project, or scrap it altogether. Councilors make a final decision on July 14.

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CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF

Dawn Baxendale, chief executive of Christchurch City Council, and Barry Bragg, chairman of the independent board governing the stadium, speak about the $150m cost blowout for Christchurch’s new stadium.

The council-owned events company, Venues Ōtautahi, would operate the stadium, if built.

Chief executive Caroline Harvie-Teare said the current $683m covered-roof design includes 23 corporate suites, 32 food and beverage units, and space for two retail shops.

The stadium could host rugby, football, rugby league, “mega events” like FIFA or rugby world cups, large and small concerts, esports, boxing, tennis, and Nitro Circus, she said.

The stadium’s ground floor and first level concourses – essentially large open areas – could be used for trade shows and expos, she said.

Caroline Harvie-Teare, chief executive of Venues Otautahi, which will operate Christchurch's new stadium if councilors decide to push on with it.

Supplied

Caroline Harvie-Teare, chief executive of Venues Otautahi, which will operate Christchurch’s new stadium if councilors decide to push on with it.

It also has a large 1150sqm function lounge with a 514sqm terrace that could host a 690-person banquet dinner or a cocktail function for 1000 people. The field could be used for a big gala dinner, Harvie-Teare said.

Current forecasts were that the stadium would annually host six or seven Super Rugby matches, four to five domestic competition matches, one rugby test and two other exhibition matches.

It was also likely to hold one match of football and rugby league, along with three large concerts and four smaller concerts.

Large concerts, for up to 36,800 people, would be set up in a concrete “stage pocket” at the northern end. This keeps the stage and equipment off the grass, which would then be used for general admission.

The current state of the land where the stadium is planned to be built.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

The current state of the land where the stadium is planned to be built.

Smaller concerts for about 13,800 people would be set up on the grass at the southern end, with the stage facing out towards the southern stand.

The acoustics would be balanced between sports and concerts, she said, adding that international best practice modeling has been undertaken.

“We’ve also tested all those acoustic modeling outcomes with promoters and production sound engineers who work for artists who tour and they have validated some of those numbers,” Harvie-Teare said.

The roof was the “best thing” about the stadium. Concert promoters would normally take out insurance for weather, but the roof minimized this risk, she said.

This is what the planned stadium will look like when used for rugby.

Christchurch City Council/Supplied

This is what the planned stadium will look like when used for rugby.

It also means seats are sheltered from wind and rain.

Still, there is no heating or cooling, which means the air temperature under the roof would be comparable to outside, give or take 2 degrees.

Harvie-Teare said the covered arena is what esports is looking for.

“We have been approached already by esports specialists saying this is the perfect type of venue for it.”

Veteran Kiwi promoter Manolo Echave said Te Kaha would be a value to promoters, especially with a roof.

An example of an esports gaming event being held in Sydney.

Oskar Howell

An example of an esports gaming event being held in Sydney.

“When you’re doing an outdoor show, one of the key risks is always the weather and it’s just one element that’s reduced with a roof.”

The stadium would split the market with Dunedin, but he said Christchurch was a bigger center with geographic advantages, plus it was “easier to bring people from Nelson”.

Lack of a venue had been an impediment for promoters considering shows in Christchurch, though Echave said city leaders were continuously working to get events.

“If that new stadium was there, they would certainly be able to attract more,” he said.

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