The devastated city of Christchurch is determined to host matches for the Rugby World Cup in September and October this year, despite the widespread destruction in the city caused by the recent 6.3-magnitude earthquake.
The Mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, said yesterday that he was “utterly, absolutely, totally committed” to hosting World Cup matches. He did acknowledge however, that the central business district (CBD) of New Zealand’s second largest city would remain closed for several months.
“You can see with the level of damage that we have in the CBD that it is going to be some months before it is going to be reopened,” Channel NewsAsia reported Parker as saying at a media briefing. “However, in terms of putting a timeline on what that is, we just don’t have information at this stage,” he added.
Christchurch is due to host at least seven matches at the World Cup, including key fixtures involving England and Australia, as well as two quarter finals. The city’s 40,000-capacity AMI Stadium, which recently completed a NZ$60 million (US$40.6 million) redevelopment, will be inspected later this month. Even if the stadium is ready however, there are concerns that the city’s tourism infrastructure may still not be ready to host a major influx of guests. “Accommodation is one of the issues that is concerning us,” Parker said.
Hosting matches at the Rugby World Cup would be a huge boost to Christchurch, both economically and in terms of restoring public morale. The CEO of Rugby New Zealand 2011, Martin Snedden, has already said that the tournament will definitely go ahead, but said he would not rush Christchurch into a decision.
“A detailed evaluation