There’s a political campaign in place, by a small group, to put more seats at the multi-use arena. I thought I would give my experiences of going through the paces of building an arena.
Christchurch has had the experience, and heartbreak, of building a new arena in the past few years. We built a wonderful structure which was declared as needing to be pulled down after our earthquakes. I spoke with Sir Ian Athfield about the decision to destroy the buildings. He had had engineers review the buildings and they had told him that they were salvageable. Despite this advice the buildings were demolished.
We built the stadium to be there for at least 50 years. That’s what the CCC must consider right now.
My experience with the Rugby Union, which will be behind this political campaign, was often unsatisfactory. All negotiations were seen as a ruck and maul. The Council and I were the ball. It took considerable commitment to resist their pressure.
This time I think the Council made the right decision. Is rugby a sport slipping in its importance, despite many politicians thinking that aligning with them is good for their political careers? Will it remain as powerful as it is right now? There are no guarantees that Christchurch will host key rugby tests if 5000 extra seats are added to the arena. Applying the 50-year test will rugby still be requiring an arena at all?
I think the best comments on the arena were in Andrew Gunn’s column in the Press this weekend. Here’s one:
In the end, then, it comes back to the rugger. I’m not even going to start with the ‘incentive fee’ charged by New Zealand Rugby for the privilege of paying again to watch players, many of whom were nurtured by this very city.
I’ll just suggest a better term is ‘shake-down’. Anyhow, putting aside the hoopla, hope and FOMO, the only semi-hard data we have is that a larger stadium (2500 more seats and $80-odd million larger) will be packed out for an All Black test once or possibly twice a year. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one hell of an expensive one-night stand.
Many people in Christchurch will not even be able to afford a ticket to the All Blacks matches. But they will have to pay for it anyway in their rates.
My advice to the Councillors who will be coming under enormous pressure from the Rugby Union remember they are now a sub-set of a Petro-chemical company and ignore their wails. They moan like this every time.
The rugby crowd behave like badly disciplined kids when they don’t get their own way. Leave them screaming at their end of their paddock and remember this arena will be for everybody. Not just for a sport which may have had its day.
Here’s Andrew Gunn’s article. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it as a must read.https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/125912413/when-a-complex-discussion-boils-down-to-a-measuring-competition