September 5, 2010 / 7:58 AM / 9 years ago

World Cup stadium closed after New Zealand quake

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Christchurch’s Lancaster Park, one of the venues for next year’s rugby World Cup, has been closed to check for damage from Saturday’s earthquake, New Zealand media reported.

A $43 million facelift on the stadium has been put on hold while engineers survey potential structural damage at the ground where five World Cup pool games and two quarter-finals will be played, the Sunday Star Times reported.

“There is a lot of damage and breakage to fixtures and fittings,” said the venue’s chief executive Bryan Pearson.

“But in terms of major structural damage, at this stage from our preliminary assessment, there is no indication yet that there is an issue.

“Obviously ... we will need to complete further assessments over the coming days.”

The venue was closed after Saturday’s magnitude 7.1 quake which has caused around $1.4 billion in damage according to initial estimates.

“It was a major shake and we have to be certain that the structural integrity of these buildings has been maintained before we let the public back in them,” added Pearson.

The earthquake struck hours after thousands of rugby fans had left the stadium after a provincial game between Canterbury and Bay of Plenty on Friday.

“We are counting our blessings,” said Pearson. “If it had to happen, I don’t think a better time could have been picked.”

Reporting by Alastair Himmer in Tokyo. Editing by Patrick Johnston

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