Why the covered CBD Stadium is a horrible idea for Christchurch

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I think this stadium concept  - a large, covered, 25-30k seat stadium, within the Central Business District (CBD) is a travesty, and a failure of leadership and good sense.

We need to not build a covered stadium in Christchurch, and we definitely don't want one within the CBD.

Stadia are boom and bust facilities that are

  • huge - they take up multiple square blocks - everything has to go around them almost all the time,
  • they only operate 10-25% of the time - and when they do, things get frantic. Infrastructure needs to be built to support the 'boom', but
  • 75-90% of the time, they're dead, as in 'crickets'. That's because it'll be very expensive to be able to use the Stadium. Only large-scale events, pushed (marketed and underwritten) by agents will be viable.

As a result, they're the kiss of death for surrounding hospitality businesses. In most cities, stadia are at the fringe, on low cost land, where they don't interrupt social cohesiveness, like a CBD requires, and where parking and businesses that can co-exist with their boom & bust cycles can survive.

Look at the businesses that arose around the old (now demolished) Lancaster Park, on the south-east side of the CBD... How much hospitality was there? Bugger all. It was mostly machine shops, car dealerships, scrap metal and wood sellers, fabrication shops and other light industrial manufacturing. Hardly a restaurant, cafe, or club to be seen.

Another major objection - unlike cycleways, libraries, public transport, and public sport facilities, parks, museums, etc. which are available to all Christchurch residents at little or no cost, a stadium is an elite facility. As I said above, it will cost a lot to run an event there - the bigger the stadium, the more it costs, and the more people are required to attend to make it break even. That is why almost every stadium in the world loses money hand over fist.

Tickets for all events in a covered stadium will cost those participating heaps: the tickets will be luxury items. The only ones who make money with a stadium are the event promoters who don't bear the cost of the facility - they just pay for the small slivers of time they use it.

Any way you look at it, the city building a stadium, funded by rate payers, amounts to the rate payers subsidising rich people's ability to enjoy expensive luxury experiences. There's nothing equitable about that. Quite the opposite, actually.

If we want a stadium, it should be an uncovered stadium of a size we can afford, outside the CBD.


Dave, you’re spot on.
Rugby officials, business leaders and politicians give glowing accounts of leaving games and going out to the heart of commerce and bars from games in Cardiff and London, HOWEVER they don’t come back the next day or following week to see tumbleweeds, the homeless and crime in the empty stadium shell.
And the economic benefit and CBA are horribly optimistic.

Stupidity from a council of populists.

Wellington's Stadium is pretty much in the right spot. It's right at where all the trains dump out, at the tail end of the city area .. and there are still plenty of bars and restaurants around it, but they're typically empty after games/events as people just get on the trains to go home; so they get the benefit of the city crowd and some fallover from the stadium.

Cincinnati had both its stadiums kinda right in the city, and the baseball side did raise up a bunch of news business around it. Still, baseball is way more active and the housing around it is insanely expensive. Seattle's were kinda off to the side of their CBD .. sorta of out of the way.

There are cases where stadiums right n the city work: Chicago. But there is a certain aurora to Wrigley field. Soldier is right there next to all the museums and parks and a very very densely populated city.

But I agree with your argument for Chch. Building up a lot of local business and nightlife is way more important for the city than a stadium, and a stadium would likely be counter-productive.

Spot on, Wellington makes more sense. I see a large expensive white elephant 95% of the time with wasteland the rest.

Thanks for your observations!

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