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Christchurch stadium work set to begin as council ratifies increased budget

Work on a new multi-use stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand will begin this year after the city council ratified a new budget of NZ$683m (£352m/€415m/$416m) for the project.

Councillors voted 13-3 in favour of increasing the budget by NZ$150m. In June, the council announced that the cost of the stadium, dubbed ‘Te Kaha’, could rise from its initial NZ$533m budget, and earlier this week Barry Bragg, the chairman of the council’s stadium board, confirmed the fixed price of NZ$683m had been negotiated with the project’s lead contractors.

The new budget was ratified by councillors earlier today (Thursday) and construction will now begin by the year’s end, the council said. It is hoped the stadium, which will have a capacity of 30,000, will be ready by April 2026.

It was announced in April that work was set to begin on the project. However, BESIX Watpac, which is leading the Kōtui consortium behind the project, admitted weeks later that the development’s completion date was likely to slip from mid-2025 to April 2026.

In a recent consultation, more than three-quarters of the public expressed their support for the project in spite of the rising costs. Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has today welcomed the news that work can begin on the stadium.

“Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and it should have a multi-use arena where top international acts can perform and the All Blacks, the Crusaders and other sporting greats can play,” she said. “We also need to be preparing for the future of entertainment and esports is taking off around the world.

“That was the strong message we got from the public during the consultation process and today we have responded to that. We have agreed to increase the budget for the arena to NZ$683m and we are going to enter into a design and construction contract with lead contractor BESIX Watpac so that we can put the debate about the arena behind us and get on with building it.”

Dalziel added: “The cost of the arena is much higher than we envisaged when we first began planning for this project. But no-one could have foreseen the global events – the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Europe – which have disrupted supply chains, pushed up commodity prices and led to an overheated construction market.

“The reality is that we cannot build the type of multi-use arena that we want for Christchurch for the money that we have on the books. Unless we are willing to significantly scale back the size and scope of the arena, we have to increase the budget.

“The good news is that Te Kaha Project Delivery Limited has been able to secure a fixed-price contract for the design and construction of the arena, which means the council is protected from the risk of further cost escalations.”

Mark Baker, chief executive of BESIX Watpac, said: “This will be an iconic stadium, one of only two in the world with a fully enclosed roof and natural grass playing field. The stadium will also be built to withstand Christchurch seismic activity not only on completion but during construction, which by any standard is a challenging and unique task.”

Image: Christchurch City Council