History of Jade Stadium

A History of Jade Stadium

Lancaster Park was founded in 1880. Since that time a remarkable variety of sporting activities and events have taken place here – and, for many a Cantabrian, passionate memories of sporting triumphs and challenges on these grounds will live forever.

How did it all start

What we now know as Jade Stadium has been part of the Christchurch landscape since 1880, however most people know very little of its history.

The arrival of the 1880’s saw the need for a new sports facility in Christchurch. Local sportsman no longer felt it was viable to hold their sports at Hagley Oval. A very prominent sports person at the time, Mr AM Ollivier, came up with an idea to develop a park which charged gate fees and by doing so clubs could be self-supporting. Previously clubs relied on players paying their own costs and donations from the public to stage events.

A company called Canterbury Cricket & Athletics Association was formed and 450 shares were sold at £10 each. 10 acres were then purchased of the “Lancaster Estate” and this land became the new ground. It was more than 12 months later that “the new ground down Ferry Road” became known as Lancaster Park.

Passionate memories of sporting triumphs and challenges on these grounds will live forever.

By the end of 1881, the land was starting to look like a sports ground, with fences, drainage laid, levelling, subsoiling and sowing with Devonshire Evergreen grass seed completed, terraces turfed, Cinder running track constructed and plans underway for a pavilion and stand.

The Parks opening was scheduled for the 8th October 1881. A cricket match was scheduled but was canceled due to rain. The Canterbury Athletics Association who had the ground booked in advance for the 15th of October then became the first association to hold an event on the ground. From there onwards, Lancaster Park played a key role in assisting fledging clubs and associations to establish themselves. For example, the park was active in promoting the sport of cycling, while the Lancaster Park Trotting Club played an important part in establishing the prestige and popularity of light harness racing in Christchurch.

Management Record

Throughout its long history the park has had a number of owners and operators. All have had to tread a careful line – balancing financial viability against the need to accommodate increasing spectator numbers. The Canterbury Cricket and Athletic Sports Company Ltd owned Lancaster Park until 1904. The Cricket Association then took the reins as sole owners until 1911 when the Canterbury Rugby Football Union joined with them in ownership of the park.

With the advent of war in 1914 and its paralysing effect on sporting activity at the park, revenues declined sharply. By the close of World War I emergency fundraising efforts were required to free the park from debt and a new administrative charter was proposed. An Act of Parliament in November 1919 vested title to Lancaster Park in the Crown, and established the Victory Park Board to take responsibility for its management.

JADE Stadium Limited, a Local Trading Enterprise of the Christchurch City Council, was established in December 1998 to manage the existing facilities on behalf of the Victory Park Board and to manage the redevelopment programme. A seven-member board of directors, drawn from Christchurch’s business community and the Christchurch City Council, governs the company.