Ratepayers loan up to $1.5 million for Hagley Oval lights

Ratepayer money will be put towards the installation of permanent lights at the Hagley Oval....
Ratepayer money will be put towards the installation of permanent lights at the Hagley Oval. Photo: Supplied
A loan of up to $1.5 million from ratepayers will go towards the installation of permanent lights at Hagley Oval.

At the Christchurch City Council’s finance and performance committee meeting today, the loan application from the Canterbury Cricket Trust was approved by city councillors.

Christchurch has been awarded hosting rights for eight matches in the 2021 Women's Cricket World Cup, including the final, on the condition it has permanent lights to meet international broadcasting standards.

The six permanent 49m lights are expected to cost about $4.25 million.

The trust has raised about $1.3 million so far.

The trust will be charged interest, the loan will be secured against the assets of the trust and it has to be paid back within four years.

It is conditional on security arrangements and a guarantee on terms and conditions satisfactory to council. This condition will require additional sign-off by the chair and deputy chair of the finance and performance committee.

Trust chairman Lee Robinson was confident the trust could repay the loan within the four-year window.

He said it had also applied for a $500,000 loan from the Rata Foundation which was still being considered and also various grants from other charitable institutions.

He thought the lights would provide Christchurch with a "fantastic opportunity to showcase the city".

The Women's World Cup games are expected to attract tourists from around the world and it is estimated that it will bring $5 million into the city's economy.

City councillors Tim Scandrett and Anne Galloway did not participate in the vote due to conflicts of interest, Melanie Coker was the only city councillor to vote against granting the loan.

City councillor Sam MacDonald thought supporting the loan was the “pragmatic” decision to make.

“It is a risk-free loan,” he said.

City councillor James Gough also voiced his support for the loan.

“Council is at its best when it enables those in the community to do great things,” he said.

The lights were given the green light after the city council approved a new ground lease for the oval and Associate Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Poto Williams approved changes to District Plan using earthquake recovery laws.

Last month, the Christchurch Civic Trust lodged a complaint with Parliament's Regulations Review Committee in a bid to overturn Williams' decision.

At today’s meeting, Christchurch Civic Trust board member Anne Dingwall asked for the loan application to lie on the table until Parliament had made a decision

The proposal to install the lights received 2060 submissions, almost double 1063 made on the proposed $10 million grant for the Christ Church Cathedral in 2017.

This came after New Zealand Cricket sent out an e-newsletter to cricket fans nationwide, outlining its support of the trust's bid to secure the lights.

“Given there are currently no South Island international cricket venues with lights, New Zealand Cricket strongly supports the CCT’s proposal and invites readers to make submissions to the two authorities involved,” the e-newsletter read.

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