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The Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct is just a 15-minute walk from the CBD – could Christchurch take inspiration from it?

Editorial - December’17 / January’18

Does Christchurch have Forsyth Barr Stadium envy? With the city’s aquatic and indoor recreation centre going back to the drawing board, there are calls for it to be combined with the planned stadium.

The site of the long-awaited and much-delayed Metro Sports Facility in central Christchurch still lies bare, following news in November that a $75 million budget blowout had forced the government to cancel the contract with the joint venture contractor. Instead, the Crown-owned rebuild company Otakaro will finish the design and will prepare to go out with a build-only contract by March 2018.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods has suggested some, or even all, of the facility should be rolled into the planned multi-use arena/stadium – an idea Steven van der Pol, a director of Arrow International, which managed construction of Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium, says could generate overall savings, prevent duplications, and provide synergies around parking and transport.
Melbourne got it right, grouping the MCG, Melbourne Park and AAMI Park into one giant sports and entertainment precinct just a 15-minute walk from the CBD. Here you can see tennis, cricket, football, rugby, Aussie Rules football, cycling and basketball. The National Sports Museum is located within the MCG, and some of the world’s top pop stars and rock groups have performed in the various arenas.
Getting these multi-purpose buildings right though isn’t easy, especially on such a grand scale using funds from the public purse. Look at the angst Auckland went through over whether or not to build a brand-new stadium for the Rugby World Cup in 2011. In the end, the decision was made to revamp the existing Eden Park – but Christchurch doesn’t have that option, losing both its stadium and sports/aquatic centre to the earthquakes.
These multi-purpose buildings are possible though, and the new Sumner Centre, which opened to the public in August and features in this edition of NZCN, is a wonderful example of a facility that meets a number of community needs.
Certainly the Forsyth Barr Stadium has been an economic success, pumping an estimated $165 million into the city between August 2011 when it opened to June this year, according to Dunedin Venues Management, the company that manages the facility.
The Christchurch City Council now has a few more months to reconsider its options for the leisure centre/arena/stadium. Let’s hope that this time they get it right.

On behalf of all of us here at NZCN, I wish you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year!


Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor


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