Canterbury Rugby Finds a Home   8 Sep 2011

The Crusader and Canterbury rugby teams will be based at the Christchurch City Council-owned Rugby LeaguePark from early next year, following a decision by the Council to contribute a million dollars to the development of the park and to allow its sublease from the Canterbury Rugby Football league (CRFL) to the Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU).

This means the Crusader and Canterbury rugby teams will not have to travel away from Christchurch for every game they play; and Christchurch supporters will be able to see their team in action locally. In the last year the Crusaders travelled 190,000 km to play all their games, adding to the stresses already faced by local players.

Rugby League Park is leased by the Council to the CRFL and has hosted international rugby league matches. Its current 10,000 person capacity will be boosted to 18,600 with the construction of a temporary stadium to replace the two existing earthquake damaged stands. The park’s location adjacent to the CBS Canterbury Arena and the Addington Raceway, means it can share car parking facilities with those two venues.

The CRFL will now sublease the park to the CRFU, which will build the temporary 18,600 seat stadium, including 5,000 covered seats. The sublease will last for up to six years, by which time there should be a new permanent stadium for the city. The Council will contribute up to $1 million (plus GST) for the pitch, lighting and facility design at RugbyLeaguePark. The existing playing surface will be upgraded, possibly by relocating turf from AMI Stadium to Rugby League Park.
The Council contribution will be funded by borrowings.

As well as hosting Crusader and Canterbury rugby games, the Rugby League Park development means the park will be able to host matches that would previously have been played at AMI stadium, including All Black tests, New Zealand Warriors and other NRL games, ITM cup matches and finals, Phoenix and Football A League matches and other larger games for all sporting codes.

“This is such a great solution for both the Rugby and Rugby League codes in our city,” said Mayor Bob Parker at today’s Council meeting. “It is a Brad Thorne, (who is a very good league player and a very good rugby player), moment in the sense that it brings both codes together. A small win for our city, but one that should bring some cheer after what has been a very long winter.”

(CCC Media)

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