It's official - Whangarei will host four games in the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup, bringing the district into the minds of millions of the world's sporting fans and bringing millions of dollars into the economy.
Fifa and New Zealand Football announced yesterday the cities that will host teams and games in the world's third-largest sporting event, with Whangarei's four games to include a round-16 knockout clash at Toll Stadium between May 30 and June 12, 2015.
Whangarei acting Mayor Phil Halse said the district should be proud to be involved.
"This is a great endorsement of Whangarei as a district that can host significant international events and builds on our strategy to become an events destination,"' Mr Halse said.
"Our visitors and tourists can take part in the international celebration of football and hopefully take some extra time to make the most of our district's hospitality, beautiful coastline and great climate. I am sure the locals will really get behind this.
"We sold out both Rugby World Cup games held here and are certain to make the most of every opportunity with the Fifa Under-20 World Cup."
Fifa Under-20 World Cup chief executive Dave Beeche praised all host cities, but said he was pleased Whangarei, and Northland, would play a big part.
"The feedback from Fifa was very positive following the recent site inspection tour and they are looking forward to a highly successful tournament in 2015," Mr Beeche said. "With Whangarei hosting matches, we are able to showcase another unique New Zealand destination and ensure that more Kiwis can experience the tournament first-hand. We know that Whangarei will leave a lasting impression on the players and the fans ... the teams that play there will inspire the next generation of Northland footballers."
He said Whangarei was chosen after a robust selection process.
The event could bring in more than $3.5 million to the district's economy and expose Whangarei to thousands of foreign visitors and tens of millions in TV audiences. It is broadcast in more than 100 countries and watched by about 500 million people.
Twenty four teams will play 52 games, although the countries taking part, other than host New Zealand, won't be known until qualifying ends in early 2015.
About 9000 visitors will attend games, while there will be more than 800 players and support staff, more than 250 Fifa staff and delegates and more than 100 foreign media.
Fifa Under-20 World Cup Facts:
Seven cities taking part, including Whangarei.
24 teams and 52 games, with four in Whangarei.
More than 100 countries broadcast the event.
20,000 - average crowd for games at last four tournaments.