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Covered stadium mooted for earthquake-prone New Zealand venue

The prospect of a state-of-the-art covered stadium has been floated to potentially replace the earthquake-damaged Yarrow Stadium in the city of New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Yarrow Stadium’s two main stands have been out of action since June after they were deemed an earthquake risk following damage caused during the Kaikōura earthquake in November 2016. This has drastically reduced capacity at the once 25,000-capacity rugby union stadium, with fans only able to use the uncovered stands at either end of the ground.

Options for the stadium are currently being assessed by the facility’s owner, the Taranaki Stadium Trust and its co-funder, Taranaki Regional Council, as they work alongside the operator, New Plymouth District Council, and the Taranaki Rugby Football Union.

Taranaki Stadium Trust trustee Mike Nield said that engineers have deemed that the current stadium can be repaired and that the body would be able to cover the estimated NZ$50m (£25.6m/€29.2m/$33.4m) cost for this project. However, he added that the option of an entirely new stadium at the current site, or further afield, would cost up to NZ$250m.

Nield told Radio New Zealand: “At one end of the scale you’ve got repair the existing stands and put them back into production and get the stadium up and running again, right the way through to building a brand new stadium at the existing site or indeed a brand new stadium at a different site.”

Taranaki Rugby Union chief executive Jeremy Parkinson said the organisation would be happy with a basic repair job, but did not rule out the option of a covered stadium. He said: “There’s only one in the country and that’s in Dunedin and look what that’s done for that region and the economic development there. If we could get a covered stadium it would be huge.”

Earlier this week it was disclosed that Yarrow Stadium did not suffer further damage from a magnitude-6.2 earthquake that hit the North Island on Tuesday. This incident coincided with a meeting between the stadium’s respective stakeholders where potential solutions were discussed.

Nield said that once all the options are developed in the New Year, they would go out for public consultation. After decisions are made, progress towards implementation could begin in mid-2019. The chairman of the Taranaki Regional Council, David MacLeod, said borrowing will be required to fund whatever option is chosen.

Image: Taranaki Regional Council