One year on from the February 2011 earthquakes, major public venues in Christchurch remain closed as the rebuild and restoration effort continues. The Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch Convention Centre and AMI Stadium are among the venues affected. The significance of these public venues for engaging the community in sport and cultural activities and also for attracting visitors to the city has been well recognised and is a motivating factor behind the long-term effort to restore them. According to the General Manager of the Isaac Theatre Royal, Neil Cox, it is envisaged that the theatre will ‘re-open in style and grandeur’ in January 2013. Having incurred significant damage to both the interior and exterior of the building the theatre is currently undergoing major works to the stage, auditorium floors, ceilings, orchestra pit and administrative offices which are being partially deconstructed and repositioned.
The opportunity is also being taken to incorporate a technical and aesthetic upgrade of the building into the restoration works.
The Christchurch Town Hall suffered substantial liquefaction damage (i.e. the earthquake caused the soil supporting the building to soften resulting in damage to flooring and land movement). Assessment of repair requirements for the Town Hall, in consultation with heritage experts is ongoing. However progress has been delayed by a flooding of the venue’s electrical and mechanical plant storage facility. Repair of floors in the main auditorium and James Hay Theatre is required in addition to repair of the Limes Room/Boaters wing which has become detached from the main building. Currently valuable artworks from the Town Hall are being housed in the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The Christchurch Convention Centre incurred both structural and liquefaction damage requiring a complete demolition and rebuild. The 15 week demolition process is underway and an announcement is due next month on rebuild plans.
Neither the Town Hall nor the Convention Centre is due to be re-opened before the conclusion of 2012.
AMI Stadium also needs to be completely rebuilt. A 17,000 seat temporary stadium is being built at Rugby League Park in Addington to host sporting and music events in the meantime. The temporary stadium is due to be complete late this month.
AMI Stadium, the Town hall and the Convention Centre are all Vbase venues. According to their website, prior to the earthquake Vbase venues generated between $60-100 million of visitor spending into Christchurch and hosted approximately 1800 events annually. The importance of restoring the damaged venues is consequently significant in terms of their economic value in addition to their role in hosting key community activities. It is clear from the ongoing restoration effort that these public venues and the events they host are of great value to the city of Christchurch and are gradually bouncing back from last year’s ‘act of God’ with full community support.