Netball: Auckland stadium may host semifinal

By Dana Johannsen

Despite the Northern Mystics blowing their chances of making the transtasman play-offs, Auckland could still host one of the finals.

A win against the Thunderbirds in Rotorua today would all but assure the Magic third place and the right to host next week's minor semifinal against the fourth place-getter.

But with the Magic's traditional home venues already booked out, if they qualify their semifinal will be moved to Auckland's Vector Arena.

ANZ Championship general manager Anthony Everard said while it would be preferable to hold the semifinal in Magic country, he had no doubt fans would make the trip up State Highway 1 to support their team.

"We've seen right across the season fans are prepared to travel so I'm certain there'll be a great contingent of Magic fans there. We've also seen the Mystics have had great support this year, so I think netball fans in Auckland will come out in force to support the New Zealand team [versus the Firebirds], or the North Island team [versus the Steel]."

The unavailability of local venues in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regions could be a blessing in disguise for competition officials. A shift to the Auckland stadium, which holds about 9500, will boost gate-takings. That revenue is returned straight to the league office's coffers.

Everard said the plan was to put all 9500 tickets on sale, but if sales were slow they might close off some seating to make the venue more intimate.

While the minor semifinal could still be hosted by the Magic, Steel or Firebirds, there is no such uncertainty over the venue for the major semifinal (1 v 2) given the NSW Swifts wrapped up the minor premiership weeks ago.

- NZ Herald

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