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Eden spark: How the park fared

Eden Park proved a winner on the night. Photo / Doug Sherring
Eden Park proved a winner on the night. Photo / Doug Sherring

Last night the revamped Eden Park hosted a crowd of 55,000 rugby fans. We look at how the stadium coped on the night.

THE TEMPORARY STANDS

The two temporary stands were packed to capacity with fans funnelled in from a separate access to that of the main stands. Fans watching the game from the temporary seating also had restricted access to the concourse, which allowed spectators to roam Eden Park.

Brian O'Reilly, 30, an electrician from Dublin, said the temporary West Stand had been an excellent vantage to watch the game.

"The seats are a lot closer (to the action) than what I thought. I've been to a lot of stadiums around the world and this one rates really well. For $45, it's bloody good."
O'Reilly said however, that there seemed to be a lack of atmosphere. "You've got the best team in the world but no one makes much noise."

Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden, who was seated in the back row of the West Stand, said the view was "fantastic".

"When we scored the try everyone was jumping up and down and (the stand) was really good."

ENFORCEMENT

The long arm of the law stretched around Eden Park - cars were towed and booze was banned. Police at roadblocks said only a few people were ?outing the liquor ban. The Herald on Sunday spoke to Brad, 31, and John, 22, who had been told to "?nish your drinks" before they moved on. "They were the best cops ever. They didn't tip them out," Brad said.

Jay Mai, 26, had his car towed after parking on Dominion Rd, about 1km from Eden Park, while getting his hair cut about 4pm. He said he had "no idea" parking restrictions were in place and had not seen any signs. The bill was $111.

Inside the ground, things were almost as friendly - despite a large police and security contingent, only two arrests were made. There were 27 evictions from the ground though.

THE TOILET WAIT

Reviews on the toilets were mixed although there were few queues and grumbles about hygiene. Koen McGee, a 38-year-old builder from Warkworth, said the facilities were a big improvement on previous trips to Eden Park. "Everything has been quick and effcient, the queues for the toilets were not bad at all."

The big crush came around 30 minutes before kick-off with the concourse on the north stand over?owing. The urinals were lined six-deep, with some men waiting up to 10 minutes.

A Herald on Sunday half-time test found few queues and those that did build up soon disappeared. Each toilet block seemed to have about 30 cubicles.

RESIDENTS' VIEWS

A carnival atmosphere won over almost all residents who remained in their homes neighbouring Eden Park last night. Jazz bands played and stilt-walkers walked among crowds heading for the match. Warnings of onerous restrictions on vendors hadn't affected Ella, 7, and Max, 4, who set up a lemon stall outside their home. Dad Wade Gillooly said he was not too worried about breaching the Major Events Act, which bans roadside stalls near Eden Park.

After the match, clean-up crews were picking up rubbish as quickly as it was being dumped and residents reported no problems with badly-behaving match-goers. Gina and Gordon Fraser had their children happily tucked up in bed in Reimers Ave and were hosting friends.

THE VISITORS' VIEWS

Australian Joe Kalach, 45, originally from Sydney but living in Auckland for some years, said the stadium was not as grand as new venues in his New South Wales hometown but it would serve. "I think it's a great-looking stadium. Walking down the street looking up at it it looks awesome. But the signage could be much better. I'm a bit pissed off about the result. But I think the venue just gets a pass mark."

The park seemed small but well constructed according to other Australian fans. Roger Walsh, 42, from Sydney said the ease of getting into the ground and convenient public transport had made it enjoyable.

"It's much bigger and better than when I was here two years ago but it doesn't feel on the same scale as Homebush stadium in Sydney."

TRANSPORT

A total of 18,000 fans were shipped to Eden Park by train - and they arrived without a hitch.

Philip Barrack was waiting on a busy Britomart platform with wife Sandie, father-in-law Peter Meyrick and three children Savannah (12), Jerome (8) and Daniel (3) and got on the train at 6.57pm. They arrived at 7.18pm and walked straight into the stadium.

"The last time I took a train was from Papatoetoe when the Blues played Otago in the Super 15. It ran smoothly. We got the last train there."

But the packed crowds leaving the stadium frustrated some. Lee Brown was unimpressed with his hour-long journey from Eden Park's exits to Britomart station.

"There were too many people going to a little train station. You looked left and there was a bottleneck. You looked right and there was a bottleneck. I'd like to go to the rugby again but after that performance, I'd rather watch it at home."

Tony Misa and Suzanne Brown said it took 50 minutes to get from the turnstiles to Britomart. "There was a huge queue. It was like being a sheep, getting out of there. Everyone was pushing," Brown said.

Australian visitor Mick Parfitt said the train he caught back from the match "was the slowest train in the world."

STADIUM FOOD

Fans packed out the convenience-style stores at half time but gave the thumbs down for food on cost and quality. Burger combos of a hamburger, chips and a 600ml drink were $16. The pie combos included chips and a 600ml drink and cost $14 and a hotdog was $5. Beer was $7 for a 330ml bottle.

Alan Kendred said he was put off by the cost. "It's far too expensive." He also said the amount of organisation had become confusing. "There are so many people telling others what to do that they don't know what they are doing."

Remuera's Debbie Willis, 50, bought a cold pizza for her 12-year-old son, which she described as "not a good look."

- Herald on Sunday

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