The Christchurch government has announced plans to construct a new, roofed stadium in the New Zealand city, seven years after a major earthquake damaged Lancaster Park beyond repair.

In February 2011, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit the city, killing 185 people and causing widespread damage.

Lancaster Park had served as the home of Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders and also an international cricket venue, but such was the condition of the venue after the earthquake, inspectors concluded that it could not be restored.

The new stadium will stand separate to the city’s Metro Sport Facility, according to plans announced by Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Megan Woods.

“The Crown and the council have also worked together to fast-track work on the stadium,” Woods said, according to Newshub.

“Obviously, the details will be subject to a business case, but we foresee a roofed stadium large enough to allow the city to host major rugby test matches as well as other significant sport and entertainment events.

“Council has the option to consider as part of its long-term plan deliberations bringing timelines on the stadium forward. That means Christchurch is closer than ever to having a permanent stadium.”

Confirmation of the new project comes after the government opted to halt work on an existing initiative due to high costs.

However, the new, scaled back metro sports centre will feature many of the same facilities planned for the initial project, including a 50m, 10-lane swimming pool plus smaller pools, hydroslides, a gymnasium and fitness rooms, as well as a host sports courts and both fixed an retractable seating.

“The Metro Sports Facility was originally due to open in 2016 but was still just an empty lot – we were facing a NZ$75m (€43.7m/US$53m/£38.5m) cost blowout on its contract, and there was still no certainty on the shape or cost of Christchurch’s stadium,” Woods said.

Woods added that, subject to approval, work could begin soon, with the hope of opening the new facility by the end of 2021.

Image: Geoff Trotter