Christchurch’s ‘earthquake-proof’ 30,000-seater stadium announces construction partner


After more than a year of design and consultation, Australian construction company, BESIX Watpac, has secured the contract to build a new fully enclosed, 30,000-seater multi-use stadium in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The AU$683m Te Kaha /Canterbury multi-use Arena is the largest project currently under construction in the Australia/New Zealand market. Australian construction company, BESIX Watpac which also delivered the AU$318m Queensland Country Bank Stadium in 2020, is the lead contractor in the Kōtui consortium which was appointed in March 2021 to deliver the stadium. The team includes architects Warren and Mahoney, and global stadium design experts Populous and Mott MacDonald.

A true, multi-use stadium, Te Kaha will be capable of facilitating sporting matches and international entertainment acts. It will also be one of only two stadiums in the world with a fully enclosed roof and natural grass playing field.

General manager for Queensland, Northern Territory and New Zealand Barry Whewell said some of the key features of the project include rectangular permanent stitched hybrid in-situ turf field of play and a fully covered roof including a clear span over the entire area of the field of play and bowl.

“The stadium will also be built to withstand Christchurch’s seismic activity not only on completion but during construction, which by any standard is a challenging and unique task,” Whewell said.

When finished, the stadium will be able to host international acts, the All Blacks and the Crusaders matches. The Stadium will have 30,000 seats (25,000 permanent and 5,000 temporary), 23 corporate suites, 250 meters of food and beverage outlets, an 1150-square meter function lounge, and 80 open corporate reserve seated areas.

BESIX Watpac CEO Mark Baker welcomed the announcement and said it was a landmark moment for the company.

“BESIX Watpac and our team has worked in some capacity on nearly every major stadium and venue in Australia and internationally the BESIX Group has completed some of the world’s most iconic stadiums, but this will be our first stadium build in New Zealand.

“To win this project is a major milestone and validation of our position as stadia experts.”

The new multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue and site was identified for Christchurch in the 2012 Central City Recovery Plan, developed after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Geotechnical investigations, the investment case, initial design and funding agreements for a Canterbury Multi Use Arena (CMUA) took place between 2018 and were completed in mid-2021.

The Kōtui consortium was announced as the successful tenderer for the CMUA design and construction March 2021 with a project budget of $533million. Led by Australian-based stadium construction experts, BESIX Watpac, Kōtui includes Christchurch-based construction companies Southbase Construction, local seismic engineering specialists Lewis Bradford, Christchurch architects Warren and Mahoney, and global stadium design experts Populous and Mott MacDonald.

During the design period, construction costs escalated dramatically due to Covid-19 and global supply chain pressures. BESIX Watpac presented a design and construction contract in June, and in July 2022 Christchurch City Council agreed to seek the public’s views before deciding on whether to proceed and increase the project budget by up to AU$150m.

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at print and digital magazines and websites around the world covering everything from lifestyle to sport, technology, motoring, and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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