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All Blacks, Crusaders Get Temporary Home for Christchurch Games

Christchurch will get a 17,000-seat temporary stadium that will serve as the home ground for the Crusaders Super Rugby team and host the world champion All Blacks in a Test next year, the New Zealand Rugby Union said.

The NZ$20 million ($15.9 million) upgrade of Rugby League Park will be completed by March, providing the Crusaders with a home after Christchurch’s AMI Stadium was damaged in the Feb. 22 earthquake that killed 181 people in New Zealand’s second-largest city.

The redeveloped stadium will also host an All Blacks-Ireland match in June, one of six home games the world champions will play in 2012. Christchurch last hosted an All Blacks Test 15 months ago and was stripped of seven games at this year’s World Cup because of earthquake damage.

“It has been a tough year for everyone in Canterbury, and this is a huge step towards reclaiming our city,” Hamish Riach, chief executive officer of the Canterbury Rugby Football Union, said in an e-mailed statement. “We know that rugby has played an important part in helping people to rebuild and put their lives together.”

The temporary stadium, the building cost of which will be underwritten by the New Zealand government, is expected to have a lifespan of three to five years, according to an e-mailed statement from Prime Minister John Key.

The future of AMI Stadium “remains uncertain,” the NZRU said, as engineers continue to assess the damage.

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