New Zealand's AMI Stadium was officially unveiled yesterday after a $60 million redevelopment for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The stadium was blessed by Ngai Tahu and Ngai Tuahuriri representatives just after 5.30am in an event attended by sporting, political and business figures.

With over 200 guests including Rugby World Cup 2011 chief and former test cricketer Martin Snedden, New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive, Steve Tew and chairman Jock Hobbs and former All Black, Crusaders coach and current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

The new stadium will host five qualifying group matches and two quarter-final games in the World Cup next year.

The World Cup will be the biggest sporting event ever held in New Zealand.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said: "There will be a billion eyeballs on Christchurch and New Zealand next year."

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the city should be proud that it had provided the first New Zealand stadium to be ready for the 2011 event.

"This is a great moment for Christchurch," he said. "We are absolutely ready for Rugby World Cup 2011. Bring it on."

The redevelopment began in June 2008 as the Eastern Stands were demolished and then replaced with the new Deans Stand. It has increased the total capacity to almost 45,000, making it the second largest stadium in New Zealand after Eden Park.

AMI Stadium's first sports event will be the Wellington Phoenix A-league soccer match against Adelaide United on January 30th.

Posted on 22/01/2010