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It is now home to the Canterbury rugby and cricket teams, but a host of other sporting events have taken place there since its ten acres were bought for £2,500 in 1880. Athletics, Davis Cup tennis, swimming, cycling and even trotting, which is light harness racing, have all played their part at the ground. But perhaps the most unusual use of the venue occurred during the second World War when, owing to a decline in sport and an increase in financial difficulties, the ground was turned into a potato patch.
Rain scuppered the first cricket match in 1881, completely washing it out; the inaugural game ended up being played a year later, when an England XI played against Canterbury in front of crowds of 5,000. Now the ground can hold 36,500 but wherever you sit you are close to the pitch.
Summers can be extremely hot in Christchurch, which isn't so pleasant for the fast bowlers, of course, but this didn't stop Sir Richard Hadlee from taking 76 wickets at 21.5 here at his home ground. And he was key to the ground's greatest moment in March 1987 when he ripped through a much-vaunted West Indies batting line-up: they crumbled to 100 and 165, and New Zealand went on to win by five wickets.
Test matches have been held there every year, apart from 1984-85 when the ground was rested after the pitch was severely criticized.
The ground has undergone two name changes. Originally Lancaster Park, it was renamed Jade Stadium in 1998. In 2007, it was renamed AMI Stadium after the insurance company acquired the naming rights. There are plans to increase the seating capacity before the 2015 World Cup.
Jenny Thompson August 2007
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