Mayor stands by decision to reduce stadium seating

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Photo: George Heard
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Photo: George Heard
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she is open to having discussions with people who are against the decision to reduce seating of the planned multi-use arena - but says it was the right choice.

She joined Canterbury Mornings with John McDonald on Newstalk ZB at 10am.

Her comments come after Christchurch City Council voted to develop a preliminary design for a 25,000-seat stadium.

Late last month, the council was advised that the contract price estimate for the stadium had increased by $130 million over budget.

Dalziel said the decision was the best one for the council and Canterbury.

"People just have to realise there has been a reduction both nationally and internationally in attendance of sporting events.

"The reality is we are building a multi-use arena that is right up close to the central city, unlike anything else in the country."

Councillors Catherine Chu, Phil Mauger, Sam MacDonald, Aaron Keown and James Gough have been outspoken against the reduced seating.

Dalziel said she does not think this reflects dysfunction in the council.

"I think it's a bit unfair when five people who have taken a particular position are against councillors who have worked through all of the issues and made a decision that was the best for the region."

The frustration for her, Dalziel sad, is the focus on the tier one rugby matches.

Image: Newsline / CCC
Image: Newsline / CCC
New Zealand Rugby had earlier warned the council that reducing the indoor stadium size to 25,000 would make the arena too small for major international rugby games, unless a substantial incentive fee was on offer.

"Everyone keeps defaulting to calling it a sporting stadium but it's also going to be used as an arena for concerts and events and amazing opportunities that will come from different things we are bidding for overseas.

"The reality is our national rugby team is a franchise that's about to be sold off overseas, we have to negotiate with them to get them a financial return to play in our city."

The Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils have yet to be approached about part-funding the arena.

"We all just signed off our long-term plans and in order to get a commitment from other councils in relation to a capital contribution, it would require them to go out for a special consultation procedure with their own residents.

"So it wouldn't be possible until their annual plan next year."

The reduced seating has sparked controversy, with an online petition calling to reverse the decision reaching more than 20,000 signatures.

When asked about the petition, Dalziel said it is mainly focusing on the rugby matches.

"Rugby matches were already losing capacity prior to Covid hitting. The number of people turning up was reducing, that has been a reality seen around the world.

"We've got to design a multi-use area for the future. When you think about the quality of HD TV, we're not competing with other venues, we're competing with people's homes."

The cost increase for the arena was partly due to the large increase in construction costs, especially steel, and given the Covid-19 recovery around the world.

It was proposed that the minimum seating capacity for sports events was reduced to 25,000 and would include a U-shaped concourse. It was also a better turf solution and to retain acoustics for concerts.






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