The schedule for the 2015 Cricket World Cup has been announced, with seven New Zealand cities hosting three matches each.
Christchurch will host the opening match of the Cricket World Cup on Valentines Day 2015.
The tournament will be hosted by New Zealand and Australia from February to March 2015.
Auckland will host one semifinal and Wellington one quarterfinal.
Christchurch’s Hagley Oval has been given the honour of of hosting the tournament opener between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on February 14. That will be subject to an Environment Court ruling on Hagley Oval’s redevelopment.
Canterbury will also host four teams, including New Zealand, for warmup matches in the days leading up to the World Cup.
New Zealand will play South Africa at Hagley Oval and Zimbabwe at Lincoln, while Sri Lanka will play South Africa at Hagley and Zimbabwe at Lincoln.
Dates are yet to be confirmed.
Mayor Bob Parker said the announcement was “a massive boost for Christchurch”.
“It was a real blow to the city when we could not host games for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It’s a real indication that Christchurch is back on its feet.”
He said it would bring social, tourism and economic benefits to the city. “Christchurch will be broadcast around the world and people will see just how far the rebuild has progressed by 2015.”
Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon said it was fantastic news for Cantabrians.
“Canterbury has a proud cricketing history and is home to New Zealand’s most famous cricketing family, the Hadlees,” he said.
“Cricket is the No 1 summer sport in Canterbury, which is the second-largest province in the country in respect of playing numbers but the highest number of players as a percentage of our population.”
Christchurch will also host a match on February 21 between Pakistan and West Indies and on February 23 between England and a team yet to qualify.
Eden Park will host a semifinal on March 24, with the Sydney Cricket Ground hosting the other semifinal, and the final will be at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Wellington will host the big New Zealand-England pool clash on February 20 and a quarterfinal on March 21, which New Zealand will play in if they progress that far.
Auckland will host another big pool match between New Zealand and Australia on February 28.
New Zealand did well out of the announcement, with 49 tournament matches to be played over 43 days. An even split of 21 pool matches in each country was confirmed.
Seven host cities in each country were confirmed and will host three pool matches apiece. The other New Zealand host cities are Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Dunedin.
Therese Walsh, who heads the New Zealand arm of the organising committee, labelled it “a great result for New Zealand and cricket fans”.
New Zealand were drawn in pool A with England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and two qualifiers.
Pool B contains South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and one further qualifier.
Every team will play group matches in Australia and New Zealand.
The format will be similar to the 2011 tournament on the subcontinent, split into two pools of seven that play a round robin. The top four from each progress to the quarterfinals.
It will be the 11th edition of the tournament, with New Zealand and Australia reprising their roles as co-hosts from 1992.