Pass marks for stadium preparation

By Michael Dickison

Crowd: 8/10. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Crowd: 8/10. Photo / Sarah Ivey

We run the checks to see how ready Eden Park and all its related services are for the Rugby World Cup.

Transport (train): 9/10
The original plan was to take the bus, but for a confused, rushed spectator-hopeful, the train delivered - at the station at 7.05pm, in your seat at 7.34pm.

It was in time for the tail end of player introductions, only 60 seconds to kickoff. Also, you can't get lost looking for Britomart, as you can if you haven't looked up where the bus stop is before running out the door.

There were big signs and many guides at Britomart to guide patrons on to the next game train. The 7.06pm was a regular service, stopping at every station (the special rugby trains skip Newmarket and Mt Eden, stopping only at Grafton and Kingsland). The ticket man on board was in full swing, but a printed ticket was a free pass: "Rugby?" you ask.

"Sweet," he says.

Online ticketing is quick - at least once you figure out which of the many sections of the stands you want to book for.

This step, for the obsessive first-timer, has been known to take half an hour.

The train took eight minutes to Newmarket, another five to Grafton, and three more each to Mt Eden and Kingsland. It was standing room only by the time it arrived, at 7.25pm, after only 19 minutes.

Atmosphere: 7/10

Crowd: 8/10
Against Australians in a playoff, even 16,100 Aucklanders can fill an outsized stadium with attitude.

Yes, the stands dwarfed the crowds again; but enough tension also permeated throughout for a sense of excitement.

The stomps and boos for Aussie kicks were especially powerful.

And so much for MetService - no umbrella was necessary.

Entertainment: 7/10
The halftime cheerleaders and their big, big smiles made for good TV on the big screens. And there was, of course, an excellent tug-of-war, Waratahs fans collapsing and rolling to the strength of the home-town representatives.

A humble suggestion is that the music should cut out for a moment of silence before the kickoff. Johnny B Good is fun, but doesn't help with gravitas for the boys on the field.

Service: 9/10

Food, beverages and queues: 9/10
The sixth floor may be the summit of the ticket price range, but there's only beef up there - no lamb burgers.

The "gourmet" lamb burger, at $7.50 on level three, could be the best thing you eat all day.

The queues were well managed, with the gates again a standout. Even the bag-bearing lines were flowing freely at 7.30pm.

Facilities: 9/10
A newspaper report today says there are security staff shortages at Eden Park, but it's hard to imagine how to pack more fluoro vests around the place ... and all of them crowned with smiling faces, too.

And the security is sharp - a reporter in the stands suspiciously typing on his laptop (while trying to review the stadium) was immediately picked up and reported on.

Among lesser threats, police were questioning two teenage boys, so there must have been some good work being done.

- NZ Herald

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