AMI ends naming rights at temporary stadium

Ethan Blackadder of the Crusaders is tackled by Michael Little of the Sunwolves during the round 10 Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Sunwolves at AMI Stadium on April 21 at the temporary stadium. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER/GETTY

AMI has ended its contract as naming rights partner of the city’s temporary stadium.

The insurance company ended its 10-year relationship as the major sponsor of the city’s main stadium in March.

It comes as Crusaders chairman Grant Jarrold and chief executive Hamish Riach said the state of the temporary stadium in Addington is “increasingly unattractive” to commercial partners in a submission on the city council’s Long Term Plan.

The Crusaders including All Black captain Kieran Read, Canterbury Rugby and New Zealand Rugby have pleaded for the city council to fast track funding for the new multi-purpose central city stadium.

AMI community engagement manager Eve Whitwell said it ended its contract to focus on more “community-based” sponsorship opportunities.

It took over from Jade Software as the naming rights sponsor of Lancaster Park in 2007 and carried this on to the Addington temporary stadium post-earthquake.

If sponsorship cannot be found the name of the stadium will change. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

Lancaster Park closed as a result of the February 22, 2011, earthquake. Christchurch Stadium Trust chief executive Tim Shannahan said AMI and the trust agreed to extend the contract until August 11, when the Super Rugby season ended.

This was because marketing materials, including tickets, had already been printed for the Super Rugby season.

It was also after the much-touted game of three halves between the All Blacks, Canterbury and Otago on August 10.

But Mr Shannahan said losing its major sponsor won’t spell the end of the temporary stadium.

“It’s tidier having a naming rights sponsor, but it’s not the end . . . we’re confident we’re putting in place other revenue streams.”

In its 2016 financial statement, it recorded $1 million in sponsorship income.

However, Mr Shannahan would not say how much AMI had contributed as it was “commercially sensitive.”

If a new naming-rights sponsor is not found by August, Mr Shannahan said it would be called the Christchurch Stadium.

“The stadium was only supposed to operate until 2017 and we had sponsors lined up to that date . . . it does put us in an awkward position and makes things tighter . . . but it’s not all doom and gloom,” Mr Shannahan said.