OPINION: A cheery, leery chant of "Gerry, Gerry, Gerry" broke out as the Crusaders – proud tenants of Christchurch's new sporting citadel – lauded their landlord.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was whisked into the inner sanctum after Israel Dagg's last-gasp try allowed the Crusaders to christen the new joint with a 28-21 win over the Cheetahs.
The minister was met with a riff normally associated with audiences of the Jerry Springer Show on late-night television.
As Dagg later divulged, the Crusaders wanted to thank everyone – the government funders and the workers – who delivered their new $30 million home in a dizzying 100 days since the old Rugby League Park was razed.
"Gerry's done a lot for the Canterbury region in getting this stadium up, so we just wanted to give something back to him."
But it was Dagg who gave the capacity 17,500 crowd what they wanted most: a Crusaders victory.
At 21-21, the opening night champagne turned flat. A draw, or a defeat, was not in the script.
The Cheetahs had struck back with two second-half tries and seemed set to be party poopers.
Twice, the Crusaders were held up in a haystack of bodies on the Cheetahs' line after winning uncontested 5m scrums (couldn't the burly Brownlee have done the decent thing and offered to personally solve the Cheetahs' propping crisis?).
But they worked the ball wide in the 75th minute for Dagg to deliver the match-winning try to the sonic delight of the crowd.
"It was awesome [scoring the winner in the first game at the new ground]," the All Blacks fullback said, before quipping: "I'm just happy Robbie [Fruean] gave it that time!"
Without a Crusaders win, the fulltime fireworks display would have been akin to a damp squib.
Diplomacy reigned in the Crusaders' camp. No-one would quite admit what every punter knew – AMI Stadium Mark II is better than the Mark I over in Waltham.
The designers have managed to combine the old with the new – the atmosphere of Rugby League Park with the fans just metres from the pitch – with the functional comforts of a modern ground.
There is no turning back. Brownlee has one more job to do – a permanent red sticker for the old, much beloved Lancaster Park venue. Rectangular rugby grounds are the way of the future.
How good was it running out the little tunnel into the maelstrom of noise? Ryan Crotty told a radio audience it made his hair stand on end – on his neck not that natty 80s moustache.
Dagg, who felt no nerves before arriving at the ground "chilling at home" with "a wee bit of PlayStation", felt quite emotional "when I ran out and saw all the flags and all the people cheering and yahooing it was just awesome to see Christchurch out there, smiling and backing us."
Dan Carter sat on the bench for the first half and noted the noise did not abate out on the field. "It was really motivating. I think it's a fantastic stadium to play at – especially when it's full like it was tonight."
Christchurch Stadium will be more than a rugby venue. Pre-match messages from other sportspeople were beamed up on the big screen before kickoff with Wellington Phoenix and All Whites defender Ben Sigmund and Warriors utility Lewis Brown both stating a desire to play at the new ground in their hometown.
You couldn't fault the buildup on a balmy, north-westerly autumnal evening but then a game of rugby broke out.
For most of the first spell it seemed a vaudeville troupe were playing on the Old Vic stage – the standard of fare didn't seem to live up to the occasions or environs.
During one deadly dull phase, our attention was drawn to a huge flock of birds flying southwest in perfect formation.
Hadn't the Crusaders heard Cantabrians have had their fill of lateral spread? They had plenty of ball, but seemed, strategically, stuck in a mindset of flicking it wide all the time to stretch the Cheetahs' defence.
Tom Taylor, who made a seamless Super rugby debut, couldn't be faulted. He was obviously playing to orders. But, why did the Crusaders not use Taylor's boot to put the ball in behind their opponents for territorial advantage?
Carter came on and created a try for Fruean with his first touch and there were flashes of the old Crusaders brilliance in the second spell.
Andy Ellis, one of the few World Cup All Blacks consistently on top of his game this term, won the man of the match, but it really should have gone to an inanimate object – the stadium itself.
It's taken the greatest tragedy in the city's history to give Christchurch a real rugby venue – a viewing experience equal to Waikato or Taranaki stadiums.
The fans filed out sharing captain Kieran Read's hope that the Crusaders can make it their fortress.