Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Downer takes on Nines sponsorship after Dick Smith collapse

Martin Snedden says Nines crowd numbers this year are expected to be about 35,000 plus. Photo / Dean Purcell
Martin Snedden says Nines crowd numbers this year are expected to be about 35,000 plus. Photo / Dean Purcell

Engineering and infrastructure group Downer has stepped up as the new naming sponsor for the 2016 NRL Nines, after original major supporter Dick Smith went into receivership.

The contract will see the group sponsor the 2016 year with an possible option to continue.

Tournament organiser Duco Events chief executive Martin Snedden said the deal was the result of a lot of hard work in a short space of time, adding that changing the branding and advertising would take the better part of the week and would be costly - something Duco was fronting.

"It's amazing how much is involved in the changeover," Mr Snedden said.

He said the tournament itself would not be affected by the change.

The teams, players, prize money and event itself would be unchanged, with the prize pool still sitting at about $2.6 million.

Mr Snedden said Downer was a good fit as an Australasian company and one that had shown interest in coming on board since Dick Smith's receivership was announced.

"We had a lot of conversations going on and a lot of people who took notice of what was happening contacted us, so within a very short space of time we had a number of significant conversations that we were having with various parties," Snedden said. "Being a highly respected and successful business throughout both Australia and New Zealand, [Downer] are a great fit with the Nines.

"They are just doing the 2016 event and that's because at this late stage they are getting it at a rate that's lower than what Dick Smith paid," Mr Snedden said.

"Both of us felt it was appropriate to deal with what's in front of us in the next few weeks and then after that look at it and start thinking about the future from there."

Another key sponsor, Auckland City-owned Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development or Ateed, is kicking in $1,750,000.

Mr Snedden said the tournament was heading for a crowd of about 35,000 plus.

The tournament will now be known as the Downer NRL Auckland Nines.

The Eden Park event will be held over the weekend of February 6 and 7.

- NZ Herald

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