World Cup 2011 tickets won't come cheap

By Maggie McNaughton

Rugby fans could be sleeping on cruise ships in Auckland Harbour during the 2011 Rugby World Cup because of an accommodation shortage.

And fans who want to go to a semifinal or the final had better start saving now.

Ticket prices will be based on international prices and are expected to mirror the charges for semifinal and final tickets for this year's Rugby World Cup in France.

For this year's tournament, the average price for a semifinal ticket is about $500 and the average price for the final is around $750.

But Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd chief executive Martin Snedden said yesterday that tickets for the pool games would be far cheaper, enabling people of limited means to attend games.

He said the use of "live sites" around the country would allow people who couldn't go to the games to watch the action on big screens and still be part of the Rugby World Cup experience.

The proportion of tickets available to New Zealanders hasn't been decided yet.

Finding enough accommodation would be tough for the expected 70,000 visitors. "We will have to be creative in our solutions."

Mr Snedden said it was likely Auckland would use cruise ships and campervan sites to help ease the potential accommodation shortage.

He was speaking in Auckland at the final of four regional media briefings on the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Eden Park was likely to host the October 15 and 16 semifinals and October 22 final for logistical and financial reasons.

The quarter-finals are likely to be shared by major test venues and the pool games will be spread around the country.

The tournament will cost $310 million and is expected to generate $280 million in ticket sales, resulting in a $30 million loss (which would be covered by the Government and New Zealand Rugby). Ticket sales are the only source of revenue for the the host union.

Eden Park will hold about 62,000 spectators after its $190 million upgrade, whereas Wellington's Westpac Stadium holds only about 40,000 and Christchurch's AMI about 41,000.

If the final was held in Wellington or Christchurch that would mean a loss of between $7.5 million and $10 million in ticket sales revenue, said Mr Snedden.

Many fans would attend both semifinals and the final and moving them around the country to different venues would be difficult.

The final four matches of the 2003 cup in Australia were all held in Sydney and in this year's tournament they will all be held in Paris.

The International Rugby Board will announce in October whether the 2011 tournament will stick with 20 teams or drop to 16.

Mr Snedden was confident Eden Park's upgrade would be completed on time, but said Auckland's transport infrastructure would be a challenge.

He said the alignment of primary and secondary school holidays with the final two weeks of the tournament was one way to ease congestion.

"There are a whole lot of projects that are in the pipeline ... they have four years to sort it out."

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