Final plans have been unveiled for a NZ$50m revamp of New Zealand’s Yarrow Stadium, which was damaged by a 2016 earthquake.

The 25,000-capacity stadium – which was a home of Super League’s Chiefs team until the Kaikōura earthquake and two stands subsequently deemed unsafe – will be remodelled to ensure it is safe and suits a broader range of regional and community sports while continuing to be the premier regional venue for top-level sport in the Taranaki region.

The main East Stand at the New Plymouth venue will be demolished and replaced under a revised project unveiled by owner, the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC). Facilities will be available to users of the outer fields without the need to open up the entire stand or the rest of the stadium, which means a stand-alone training centre incorporating community amenities is no longer needed.

Physical works will begin this year on repairs to the West Stand, along with preparations for the refurbishment of the main pitch and installation of LED pitch lighting, and demolition of the East Stand. It is hoped they can be completed by the start of the 2021 national domestic rugby competition.

“It’s Yarrow Stadium Plus,” said David MacLeod, TRC’s chair. “We’re going for a venue that’s fit for a wider range of users and scale of uses.

“The rebuilt main stand will provide amenities for outer fields as well as the main field. It will also have flexible and scalable seating capacity so it can cater for events and fixtures at all levels. The aim is for the venue’s total seating capacity for top-level events to at least equal what previously existed.”

MacLeod said the redeveloped stadium, which was a host venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, will complement the range of existing and planned sporting and community venues in New Plymouth and the wider region.

While the project’s $50m budget remains unchanged, Yarrow Stadium rates will reduce by at least 40 per cent from July next year because of a $20m injection of ‘shovel-ready’ Government funding.

“It’s a great outcome for the region and it will be exciting to see contractors busy on the site by the end of the year,” said MacLeod.

The stadium’s grandstands were declared earthquake-prone in 2017 and 2018, and closed to the public. In 2019 the Council decided on a $50m refurbishment and repair project. But the works programme was put on hold and reviewed during winter while the impacts of COVID-19 were analysed and factored in.

Yarrow Stadium was first opened in 1947 and underwent major redevelopment ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, when it hosted three games, including matches featuring Ireland and Wales. The primary tenant is the Taranaki representative team which plays in the country’s principal rugby union competition, the Mitre10 Cup.

It has also hosted All Blacks Test matches and Lions tour fixtures over the course of its history.

Image: Pakaraki / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license / Edited for size