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Mayor wants evidence of “region-wide” benefits of Christchurch stadium

Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown has claimed the local council will keep an “open mind” about a proposed stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand, despite having doubts about the wider regional benefits of the project. 

Initial plans for the Canterbury Multi-Use Arena (CMUA) included a capacity of 30,000, with 25,000 permanent seats and space for 5,000 temporary seats.

Christchurch City Council then approved plans for a 25,000-seat venue, but removed the possibility of temporary seating. However, this drew criticism and more than 24,000 people signed a petition calling on the council to overturn the move.

The council last week gave in to these demands and voted to restore the seating capacity of 30,000, with the new design concept meaning that the venue is capable of hosting up to 41,000 people for concerts. 

However, the stadium project still faces a series of hurdles before it can get off the ground, including winning over Brown, who has raised concerns over the impact the venue will have on the existing EA Networks Centre in Ashburton. 

There have been suggestions that district councils could help to fund the project, but Brown said he would need to see evidence of how the new facility would benefit the wider region before committing his support – and possible public funding. 

“We would need to be convinced of the region-wide benefits out of it (the stadium),” Brown said, according to Stuff.co.nz

Brown also said he was uncertain over the decision to involve other authorities only at an advanced stage of the project, having not been included in the earlier phases. 

“If they asked for something now at the tail-end of the project to get buy-in from Ashburton, they would’ve been better to involve us at the start. We always keep an open mind though.”

Image: Christchurch City Council