The Western Bay of Plenty has missed out on a Chiefs rugby game because of a lack of infrastructure at the Tauranga Domain.

It would have been nice but it would have cost the city a lot of money.

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The pre-season game will instead be held at the Rotorua International Stadium next month as one of two trial games ahead of the 2016 Investec Super Rugby campaign in six weeks' time.

The two-time Investec Super Rugby champions will play their first pre-season fixture against the Waratahs on Friday, February 12.

Seating (shown above) is not a permanent feature at Tauranga Domain, extra seating must be brought in for big games and events. Photo/file
Seating (shown above) is not a permanent feature at Tauranga Domain, extra seating must be brought in for big games and events. Photo/file

Mayor Stuart Crosby said that although Tauranga City Council was building a good relationship with the Chiefs, it only found out about the opportunity on Christmas Eve.

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"It was a timing issue to get the actual infrastructure in place - in that time," Mr Crosby said.

A Bay of Plenty Steamers match was held at Tauranga Domain last year and a near sell-out crowd of about 5000 turned out to watch the game.

"We are very much supportive of putting in a game in the Domain. Generally the seating is a big issue. You can't just ring up someone in two to three weeks to arrange that. It does require a reasonable lead in time. If we had that, we may have tried."

Mr Crosby said he was not disappointed in losing the game, which was not expected to draw a large crowd compared to regular tournament matches.

Read more: Tauranga CBD 'like an outdated village'

"It would have been nice but it would have cost the city a lot of money."

The cost to install the infrastructure to meet Chiefs' requirements was $100,000 which would have likely been split in some percentage between the council and Chiefs.

"The ticket sales would not have supported that kind of investment from either us or the Chiefs."

Last year's Steamers match at the Domain cost more than $50,000 to host.

"The Domain is not ready to go. That's why I've always supported an appropriate upgrade," Mr Crosby said.

Mr Crosby said he encouraged rugby fans to visit Rotorua to watch the game.

Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman said the decision to hold the two trial games in Rotorua and Pukekohe was determined in view of several factors including the regional spread of games and the existing infrastructure at potential venues within the Chiefs region.

Despite extensive efforts to hold a game at the Tauranga Domain, ultimately the lack of infrastructure and time constraints rendered it unsuitable. Rotorua International Stadium became the logical venue, he said.

"We're very aware of the huge following the Gallagher Chiefs have in Tauranga and it remains an important market for us," he said.

"We are disappointed that preliminary plans to hold a pre-season game at the Tauranga Domain did not eventuate, but ultimately the lack of infrastructure and associated costs of delivering a venue to the required standard became prohibitive."

Mr Flexman said the Chiefs had a strong desire to play games in Tauranga in the future and would continue working with the council and other stakeholders "to make this a reality".

Trial tickets:

* Tickets for the two Gallagher Chiefs trial fixtures against the Waratahs and Blues will be on sale from February 2. Chiefs season members will be granted free entry to the games.