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Earthquake prone Yarrow Stadium shut down

Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth, New Zealand, has been closed down due to earthquake fears.

Its owners said a safety-first approach is behind the decision to make the 24,000 seater Yarrow Stadium unavailable as the Mitre 10 Cup home base for the Yarrows Taranaki Bulls rugby team in 2018.

The stadium owner, the Taranaki Stadium Trust (TST), says geotechnical testing on the stadium’s West Stand showed the ground stability of the bank beneath it was a significant earthquake risk.

Reports into the West Stand were commissioned after a November report found the stadium’s East Stand was also earthquake-prone.

TST trustee Mike Nield said:

It’s a real blow and we apologise to everyone involved. The Trust informed key partners, including the TRFU, of the report’s findings yesterday.

Nield said it was too early to speculate on the future of the stadium but the TST would continue investigating the next steps. He said:

This is a blow but we remain committed to having a facility in Taranaki capable of hosting top-flight sporting events. We’ll be looking at our options and while the loss of Yarrow for 2018 is a setback, it gives us opportunities to look at some of the different choices available to us.

Yarrow Stadium is owned by the Taranaki Stadium Trust. It is operated by the NPDC, who is offering its support to its partners.

Kelvin Wright, chief operating officer for NPDC, said:

This is hugely disappointing for players and fans who will be inconvenienced but safety comes first. We take public and staff safety very seriously and have taken a proactive approach ever since issues were first discovered.

The East and West Stands were built in 2002, at a cost of $17 million, while the stadium underwent significant upgrades in 2009/10 to bring it up to Rugby World Cup standards and increase its capacity from 17,000 to more than 24,000.