Dr Kerry Rodgers has been uncovering Dunedin’s soon-to-be Forsythe Barr Stadium
In July 2009, with the lawyers paid off, ground could finally be broken at Dunedin’s University Plaza allowing construction of the new Forsyth Barr Stadium to commence.
Hawkins Construction moved in immediately to begin demolition and site clearance, and piling was well under way by the end of the month.
The replacement for Carisbrook — aka the House of Pain — has had its fair share of controversy. The first firm proposal for a fully covered, natural turf stadium to be built in Awatea Street in Dunedin North (pictured) was floated in August 2006. This venue is adjacent to the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic. It is close to Logan Park and the University Oval, and an easy 2km walk from the city’s CBD.
Those who hung on each word of the innumerable subsequent court sagas and city council debates will be aware that something more than a sports ground was intended from the first.
The goal was to provide Dunedin with a fully enclosed multi-purpose venue capable of hosting a range of musical, entertainment, cultural and sporting events.
Certainly, the stadium’s clear plastic roof might provide New Zealand’s only enclosed rugby stadium, but the stadium web site says categorically: “It is not a stadium.”
Only in Dunedin!
With the project now out of court and onto the building site, construction is being overseen by the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, led by former Dunedin City councillor Malcolm Farry.
The not-a-stadium is being built in collaboration with the University of Otago which has contributed $10 million of the $198 million cost, with the Dunedin City Council chipping in another $72 million. Ownership of the completed venue will be vested in the Trust.
Naming rights were sold to local stockbroker Forsyth Barr, meaning the name Carisbrook will soon die.
When completed at the end of July 2011, the new Forsyth Barr Stadium will be New Zealand’s largest indoor arena with a capacity for more than 25,000 scarfies, with another 5000 shoe-horned in on temporary seating.
The rectangular pitch and seating angle will bring fans closer to the action than at any other major stadium in New Zealand.
And the new not-a-stadium will become home to The Highlanders Super 14 franchise.
When a stadium is not-a-stadium
Whatever you wish to call it, the new facility can be configured to host a wide range of activities in a fully-covered environment. These include:
main rectangular natural turf pitch games, including football, rugby, league or even grid-iron,
multiple drop-in courts with temporary seats on palletised pitch for netball,
single court with wooden floors and relocatable seating for basketball,
dirt main pitch, for BMX and Crusty Demons events for example,
large concert mode using the main field with turf protection and with patrons in the east or north stands,
small concert or formal function mode using screening and partitioning of the covered pitch, and
large-scale exhibitions using full turf protection.