Christchurch can host 2011 Rugby World Cup final

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christchurch, New Zealand's Jade stadium says they can host the 2011 Rugby World Cup final if Auckland can't make a decision on whether or not they should build a new stadium on the waterfront or upgrade Auckland's current stadium, Eden Park, costing NZ$500 million and $385 million respectively.

Jade Stadium would be able to host the final if they were to include temporary seating to accommodate 60,000 people, required by the International Rugby Board (IRB).

Gary Moore, mayor of Christchurch, said that if they were selected to host the final then they will ask the government for $80 million. The stadium is already planning for an upgrade, worth $60 million but that money will be funded from private and charitable organisations as well as the local and central governments. The current upgrade will see Jade stadium's seating capacity grow to 43,000 and if they host a quarter-final or semi-final then temporary seating will increase the seats to 55,000.

Trevor Mallard, the Minister of Sport, said that the Auckland City Council and the Auckland Regional Council have both been given about two weeks to tell the government which decision it supports. If they cannot come to a decision then the final will most likely be given to Jade stadium, Christchurch. The least likeliest of all decisions, an upgrade of Carlaw park, but that is designated for a retirement home and on private land.

Mr Moore said that he and "stadium officials had offered Jade Stadium as a back-up final venue at a recent informal meeting with Mallard because of the continuing Auckland divisions over a site. This is about New Zealand Inc, not about Christchurch versus Auckland. What we have said to Trevor Mallard is we are able to put a stadium into Christchurch that would accommodate the numbers they would need as an insurance policy if Auckland cannot get its act together. The Government knows that when Christchurch or Canterbury puts its hand up it delivers with excellence."

Bryan Pearson, chief executive of Vbase, the company which manages Jade Stadium, said: "It was not uncommon for major sporting venues to add temporary seating for big events. London had included temporary seating for some stadiums as part of its successful Olympic hosting bid. It was not a low-rent option, and was a commercially prudent way to marry short-term opportunity with long-term legacy."

Mr Pearson hopes that Jade Stadium will not be used for the final as he understands why the government wants a national stadium, "Let's hope this gets sorted and we can focus our attentions on playing a very major supporting role. We are only a third the size of Auckland, so what we can sustain post-World Cup is nowhere near what Auckland can."

Warwick Taylor, former All Black, said it will be great if Christchurch can host the final even though he played in the 1987 final at Eden Park. Though Mr Taylor does say that an Auckland stadium is a better idea as a 60,000 seat stadium is more viable in such a large population city. Mr Taylor said that he "had great memories playing at Eden Park and in some ways would hate to see it lose the final. But I also like the idea of a national stadium."

The New Zealand Rugby Union said that a waterfront stadium and an upgrade of Eden Park are the only two options being considered, and no other stadiums are being considered.

A lot of people are confirming that Christchurch will be able to cope with the huge amount of visitors that would arrive for the final as Christchurch has the highest per capita amount of restaurants and bars in Australasia. The city also features numerous hotels.

If New Zealand cannot deliver a final in a 60,000 seat World Class stadium then the IRB will allocated the final to another country.

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