Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Cricket, rugby, NRL & concerts - the battle for your buck

Fierce competition has seen event ticket prices slashed and different sporting codes working together to offer special deals - but music fans still pay too much to see international acts.

Tomorrow Eden Park, the home of Auckland rugby, will host a one-day cricket match between the Black Caps and South Africa, and on Sunday the Warriors will play the Manly Sea Eagles.

The ground has recently held T20 cricket matches and the Super 15 season-opener for the Blues, who have reduced ticket prices by up to 25 per cent and offered special concessions.

Across town, Vector Arena hosts a growing number of international acts such as Lady Gaga and Radiohead, while local musicians and festivals wrap up a busy summer season.

"I think everyone understands there's a lot of activity, and times are a bit tougher," said Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah.

"The examples in sports at the moment [such as the Otago Rugby Union staving-off liquidation], it's hard running any sort of sports team and breaking even, let alone increasing revenue."

Instead of treating the Black Caps match as a threat, the Warriors decided to approach New Zealand Cricket and Eden Park about offering a dual ticket deal to both events.

A discounted double ticket offer is available for Upper East Stand seats at a single price of $40 for adults - 27 per cent off pre-purchasing tickets for both matches.

"I think that cross pollination of fans is an exciting one ... typically you get threatened by another event that's being held at the same time ... we've turned it into a benefit."

Mr Scurrah said the club would offer initiatives like the double-header, good value family packages and memberships up to 70 per cent off gate prices instead of ticket discounts.

In contrast, the Blues have cut some ticket prices for the 2012 season by 25 per cent and offered accompanied children $5 tickets.

They have also introduced four-game general admission passes for $59, or eight games for $109.

Last year the side enjoyed their best season since 2007 as beaten semifinalists, yet like other New Zealand teams failed to attract decent crowds.

Stuart Clumpas, executive director of Vector Arena, said unlike 20 or 30 years ago, sports like rugby now realised they were competing with other forms of entertainment.

"New Zealand is no longer in the dark ages, it's a country of 4.5 million people ... and people are expecting things to be at the same level as everywhere else."

Mr Clumpas said the small details now mattered to the paying public.

Vector had set up a bar inside the main hall so fans could watch the action while they queued, added New Zealand beers to those offered by the caterer, toned down harsh lights, and covered fencing with black draping.

The venue had seen crowds swell up to 8500 people for Breakers basketball matches.

"[Rugby] really need to look closely at what they're doing."

General admission tickets to see Lady Gaga at Vector Arena will cost $179, with Radiohead at $130.

Mr Clumpas said Kiwis paid a high price to see such acts because even dearer ticket prices in Australia were well above those demanded in the United States and Britain.

"If Australia was the same level as the US or UK, then our ticket prices would be nothing like what they are. But if we don't get close to our Aussie cousins, then we don't get anyone."

- NZ Herald

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