The Canterbury Crusaders' earthquake-damaged stadium will remain closed in 2012, leaving the Christchurch-based Super Rugby finalists searching for a new home, city officials confirmed on Tuesday.
Christchurch's AMI Stadium was severely damaged when a devastating earthquake hit New Zealand's second largest city in February, killing 181 people.
The damage meant the Crusaders had to play their entire 2011 season on the road and forced World Cup organisers to move seven matches, including two quarterfinals, from Christchurch.
Christchurch City Council said the stadium's long-term future was still being assessed but at least one stand needed to be demolished and there was no prospect that the venue would reopen next year.
"At this stage, we can confirm that the stadium will not be available for the 2012 season," councillor Sue Wells said.
She said the council was working with the Canterbury Rugby Union to find an alternative ground in the city, with the Christchurch Press newspaper reporting the Crusaders could move to Riccarton racecourse in the suburbs.
Wells said the stadium's Hadlee Stand suffered severe damage in the 6.3 magnitude quake and engineers had recommended its demolition.
She said work was underway to establish the best way to save three other stands, and it might be necessary to drive piles 25 metres beneath the surface to reach solid ground.
"Engineers are working now to determine the best method of repair and to establish the costs involved," Wells said, adding that such work had never before been undertaken in New Zealand.
She said that negotiations with insurers would begin once potential costs had been established and no final decision on the fate of the stadium, formerly known as Lancaster Park, was expected before October.
The stadium damage turned the Crusaders into Super Rugby nomads. The team travelled more than 100,000 kilometres (62,000 miles) during the season, playing at grounds ranging from London's Twickenham to Timaru in the South Island.
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