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Govt MPs back Chch rugby quarter final bid

Govt MPs back Chch rugby quarter final bid

28 August 2008

Four Christchurch-based government MPs say it's only right that the South Island should host two quarter-finals of the rugby world cup which will be hosted by New Zealand in 2011.

"While we agree no quarter should be given on the pitch, we believe our pitch should be given at least two quarters," the MPs said today.

Their comments marked the passing of Christchurch Central Tim Barnett's Local Bill which transfers the assets of the Victory Park Board, which essentially means Lancaster Park (AMI Stadium), from the Crown to the city council. In return, the council has agreed to fund the necessary redevelopment of the park as a world-class sports stadium.

"If the South Island cannot host either semi-final, which we accept is the reality due to the logistics of moving so many people to Auckland for the final, then Christchurch should host two quarter-finals to reinforce that it is New Zealand not just Auckland that is hosting the Rugby World Cup," the MPs said.

"Rugby is a game of two halves just as New Zealand is a country of two-halves. And, like rugby, focussing on one half to the exclusion of the other makes no sense."

Jim Anderton (MP for Wigram), Tim Barnett (Christchurch Central), Lianne Dalziel (Christchurch East), and Ruth Dyson (Banks Peninsula), have written to Rugby World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden giving four further reasons why Christchurch is the best choice for hosting two of the event's quarter-finals:

- Christchurch is New Zealand's second largest city and the gateway to the South Island with its breath-taking scenery. This will deliver a legacy for New Zealand's tourism industry.

- Christchurch has the infrastructure to deliver a fantastic event experience for a weekend of two Quarter finals. AMI Stadium is being upgraded to an international standard, with the second highest capacity in the country (behind Eden Park) of 40,000. Other key infrastructure upgrades already underway include the expansion of Christchurch International Airport with a new terminal and car parks.

- Christchurch can cater for large numbers of overseas visitors with plenty of accommodation ranging from couch-surfing to 5-star.

- Canterbury is the home of New Zealand rugby with a proud heritage and a successful record in the modern day era of professional rugby. Christchurch is home to enthusiastic, knowledgeable and sometimes even parochial rugby people who will welcome visitors to the Rugby World Cup.

"As government MPs in the area, we would like to register our strong support for two quarter-finals in Christchurch, and offer any help or support we can to ensure that outcome," the MPs said.

Waimakariri Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove is a staunch Canterbury rugby supporter but was not asked to sign the letter to avoid any perceived conflict of interest with his portfolio as Rugby World Cup Minister.


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