Govt will pay to fix stadium - if RWC games go ahead

11:08 pm on 10 March 2011

The Government says it will pay for Christchurch's earthquake-damaged AMI Stadium to be fixed in time for the Rugby World Cup - if the International Rugby Board is still happy for matches to be played there.

Seven matches, including two quarter-finals, have been scheduled for New Zealand's second-biggest city when the tournament begins in May.

The stadium has been closed following a devastating quake on 22 February and its future as a Rugby World Cup venue is in jeopardy.

Prime Minister John Key on Thursday visited the stadium for the first time since the quake, but says he does not want to speculate on whether matches can be played there.

"In its current form, there's mounds and humps and hollows everywhere ... it's a complete and utter mess."

Mr Key says he understands that reports on the stadium will be with the Government at the weekend.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully told Morning Report on Thursday that even if the stadium is worth fixing, the next question is whether Christchurch has the key infrastructure to host the event.

Mr McCully says he has yet to get information on the availability of accommodation in the city and will have a clearer idea of what is going to happen to the stadium over the next few days.

Plenty of capacity elsewhere, say moteliers

The Motel Association says if World Cup games can not be played in Christchurch, other cities have the capacity to accommodate extra fans.

Chief executive Michael Baines says there are still plenty of rooms available in the country's other main centres and is sure that accommodation providers in those places could cope with the additional influx of people if they had to.

Mr Baines says, however, that he would hate to see the games move out of Christchurch.

House of Travel retail director Brent Thomas says it would be a huge logistical operation to change accommodation and transport bookings if the games are moved.

The travel agency is booking package deals for both domestic and international rugby fans.

Mr Thomas says if the matches are held at AMI stadium, fans will need to be housed as far away as Hanmer Springs and Timaru, or be flown in for the day.

Tournament would be a distraction - retailer

One Christchurch retailer says the Rugby World Cup will be a distraction from the rebuilding that needs to be started.

Before the quake, the owner of fashion store Amity in Hereford St, Mark Hau, started a relaunch of his business to target rugby tourists and expected turnover to increase two to three times during games in Christchurch.

Now, he says people still need time to grieve and there are plenty of residential and commercial buildings that need to be repaired.