Canterbury Stadium concept art
Canterbury Stadium concept art

Peter Williams: Are Cantabrian's getting value for money with the new stadium?

Peter Williams 13/08/2021

OPINION: I'm not certain the extra $50 million spent on the stadium will be economically beneficial to Christchurch.

Now it’s been framed as one with nice round and easy to understand numbers. Build a 25,000 seat stadium and it will cost 473 million, with central government and the city council paying about half each, or build a 30,000 seat stadium and it will cost 50 million more, although we don’t know where that extra money is coming from. As you know, the decision was originally to save money, be practical, be realistic and cut the cloth to the cash. But then came this massive outcry from a lot of very vocal people, many of them with vested interests, and that decision has been reversed.

There will be a bigger stadium, nobody seems to know where the extra 50 million will come from, and now Christchurch will get to host a few more All Black test matches. Because that’s what it has come down to. One, or possibly two, All Black tests a year. That’s it.

Another 50 million from some yet to be determined source, but if you’re a resident of Christchurch or Canterbury I can give you a pretty good steer on that, and the news is all bad for your bank account. But don’t worry. On one night out of 365, that stadium will be at full capacity. Maybe. Because surely the question should have been asked, and it probably was, if we spend another 50 million to put 5000 more seats in, how often will those five thousand extra seats be filled, and is the economic benefit to the city going to be high enough to warrant the extra spend?

I’m an outsider. I have no skin in the game. Christchurch does need a new stadium, but for a country with our population, we have a staggeringly high number of expensive and under utilised sports stadia. I would have thought that having a 25,000 people capacity stadium in a city the size of Christchurch would be perfectly adequate for every possible event you could imagine, with the exception of the All Blacks playing Australia, South Africa or the Lions, matches which happen once or twice a year. However, Christchurch you are stuck with it.

Are you happy? And when do you think it will be finished anyway? The Lions are due here in 8 years. Will it be finished in time for that tour? On form so far, I doubt the odds are better than 50-50. 

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