Christchurch’s Hagley Oval Pavilion

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A southern-style stoush had been sparked when New Zealand was chosen, along with Australia, as host for the 2015 World Cricket Cup. Post-quake Christchurch was awarded the honour of providing the venue for the opening match on February 14, 2015.

Pre-quake, that venue would have been the former AMI Stadium, but this was now damaged beyond repair. A proposal was advanced by Canterbury Cricket to modify their plans for a redevelopment of Hagley Oval so it might host all forms of first-class and international cricket, including the WCC.

It was this suggestion that saw a Save Hagley Park group sprint to the barricades. Their principal grievance was that the park, the home of the Oval, had been “gifted to Christchurch to be reserved as a public park forever, and for the enjoyment and recreation of all. This proposal goes against that original intention and sets a precedent for the loss of open public space and further commercial development within Hagley Park.”

Yet cricket has a long history at the Oval. The first recorded match was in 1867. The first Plunket shield game was in 1907 and the first one day international (ODI) took place in January 2014. The ground has hosted three women’s test matches and six women’s ODIs.

It was only after a protracted legal heyhoe that Canterbury Cricket’s development plans, including a pavilion, light towers and a grassed embankment, received the go-ahead from the Environmental Court and, subsequently, the Christchurch City Council.

The two-tier, 166m-long pavilion was a major part of the development. Construction commenced soon after final approval was received. The first sod was turned by Prime Minister John Key on December 17, 2013.

The intent had always been to provide a design sympathetic with the Hagley Oval setting. In this the building is undoubtedly successful. It is a credit to those involved: Athfield Architects (Trevor Watt & Tim Dewar), Southbase Construction, Project manager Athfield & RCP (Waren Warfield, Matt Allen and Kevin Long), Fabric Structure Systems, Holmes Consulting Group, Cosgroves, and Davis Langdon.

Construction used 120sq m of foundation concrete and 36 tonnes of structural steel, with 2.5 tonnes of fabric in the floating tensile roof.

Despite the subsequent vagaries of Canterbury’s weather the contract came in on time. This saw John Key again report for duty on Monday, September 15 this year, to open the new Hagley Oval Pavilion. He was accompanied by Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and 150 guests.

If you are passing by Christchurch on Boxing Day this year you could stop in at the Oval and help celebrate its becoming the eighth test venue in the country. The match that day is between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and will be the first cricket international in Christchurch since the 2011 quake.

And next year, not only will the Oval host the opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, the opening ceremony will also be held there plus two warm-up matches and two other pool matches.

Of course, for those addicted to leather on willow, with or without added flannel, there are membership packages now on sale.

A membership into the Pavilion secures a seat for the next five years with varying rights to all Canterbury Cricket Association games and New Zealand Cricket international games. Check out www.hagleyoval.co.nz.