Central city  |  22 Jul 2021

Christchurch City Council has approved a new design direction for the Canterbury Multi-Use Arena in an effort to minimise a multi-million dollar cost increase to the central city’s final anchor project.

“The design direction we have approved today provides a clear way forward and will result in Christchurch getting a fit-for-purpose covered arena befitting the largest city in the South Island,’’ says Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

“The future of entertainment is changing, with the advent of e-sports and the global decline in attendance at sporting fixtures. This was evident before the global pandemic. We need to compete with high-definition live-streams into the comfort of people's own homes, so the experience of being in an arena needs to be special.

“While the arena will have a smaller footprint than the initial concept that was used to establish the investment case for the arena, it will still have seating for 25,000 and the ability to accommodate 36,000 for a concert so Christchurch will be able to attract the type of large-scale events that we want to see here.

“We’ll be able to offer a premium arena experience and host major concerts, cultural events, exhibitions and sporting fixtures that will delight and entertain our residents and visitors to the city,’’ the Mayor says.

“Before the earthquakes, Christchurch was the natural home in the South Island for major events. With completion of the Canterbury Multi-Use Arena, we will be able to reclaim that position.

“The Kōtui consortium that we have appointed to lead the design and build of the arena will now work at pace to progress the preliminary design plans for the arena.  We hope to be able to release these publicly later this year,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

Under the new design direction approved by the Council today, the arena will have a U-shaped concourse and space for a ‘stage pocket’ at its northern end.

The Council was looking at building an arena with a full level 1 concourse and seating for 30,000. However, when it costed out the project and after value management had been undertaken, it came in $88 million* over budget. That is due to scope changes from the initial Investment Case and the rapidly escalating price of steel and shipping costs worldwide since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once BESIX Watpac NZ (CMUA) Limited (Kōtui) completes both preliminary and developed designs for the CMUA, they will have a firm indication of cost risks to the project, including any further escalations in construction materials and shipping prices. The final lump sum bid they submit for the design and construction of the arena will take all of these factors into account.

The new design direction for the arena has the backing of key stakeholders and sporting groups.

Building the Canterbury Multi-Use Arena is budgeted to cost $473 million. The Council is putting $253 million into the project and the Crown is putting in $220 million.

*This figure was confirmed by an independent price verifier.  It was not a budget developed by the Council. The Council found savings in the governance and management cost in the alternative options that were explored.  It is possible that if these savings were able to be made in the base case scheme,  the project cost over-run could  be reduced to just under $70 million. The Council did not do an assessment on how these reductions would impact on the delivery of the base scheme as it was not recommended because of the operational risks. This was made clear to the Mayor and Councillors in briefings and at the 22 July Council meeting.