New Christchurch Stadium would cost ratepayers extra $39 per year, says city councillor James Gough

A new purpose-built multi-use stadium for Christchurch would cost the city's ratepayers an extra $39 per year on average, according to city councillor James Gough.

Even after a sixth Super Rugby title in as many years for the Crusaders, Christchurch's stadium predicament is continuing to give Garden City supporters headaches.

Since the 2011 earthquake left AMI Stadium (previously Lancaster Park) unusable, Orangetheory Stadium has been utilised as a "temporary" base for Christchurch events, despite a capacity of 20,000 less than its predecessor.

The Crusaders celebrate their Super Rugby Pacific title.
The Crusaders celebrate their Super Rugby Pacific title. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

But while a new stadium has been earmarked for Christchurch, delays and a budget blowout of $150 million have hampered the project so far.

Christchurch City Council is consulting the public on whether it needs to increase the budget, re-evaluate the project or scrap plans altogether.

But councillor James Gough has told AM not having a stadium is costing the city, with large scale events beyond sport forced to look elsewhere for venues. 

"There's certainly a cost to not doing that," said Gough. "That's really why we're in the situation we are in.

"The can's been kicked down the road and I don't think it should surprise anyone that there's costs associated with that. You do it once, you do it properly.

"This will be a fabulous facility. It's not just for the people of Christchurch, this is about the South Island and probably all of New Zealand too will be able to enjoy a different user experience.

"Not just rugby, whether it's concerts or e-sports, it's pretty versatile - that's the point."

Orangetheory Stadium has been the Crusaders' home since 2012.
Orangetheory Stadium has been the Crusaders' home since 2012. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

While cost is often highlighted as a reason to not proceed with building a new stadium, Gough outlines the equation for the average Cantabrian isn't dramatically unaffordable.

Outside of a rates increase, Gough says the city council could sell off assets to cover some of the costs.

"It's about $39 per annum for the average ratepayer over the 30 years it's been borrowed for.

"It's a figure that people chuck out, because it's kind of lazy accounting. That's if everything remains equal, assuming you don't sell the Orangetheory temporary stadium site or there's other sites in Christchurch [to sell].

"There's a Red Bus depot, that company was sold by the council a couple of years ago. That's got a value of about $30 million.

"We also underspend the capital programme by about $100m. I believe, if you don't want it to affect rates, you don't have to.

"You can loop jam jars around, so there are ways, but if you put it all on rates, then it's about $39 for the average ratepayer per annum."

The $39-per-annum increase would cover the additional $150m investment needed to continue the project as planned.

All up, an increase would amount to a total of $144 per annum for the average residence, although that figure would decrease gradually over the proposed 30-year period. 

Gough also drew a line through the idea of upgrading Orangetheory Stadium, which has been used since 2012, saying the venue has long outlived its temporary status.

"I love the fact people are talking about it and coming up with novel approaches to it," he added.

"The fundamental problem is this temporary stadium is held together with Blu Tack and goodwill. It's past its use-by date, so the operational costs of it are through the roof.

"Moving something that's not fit for purpose as the new permanent solution I don't think is that realistic."