Dunedin to host 2015 Fifa World Cup

Dunedin announces that they will play host for seven matches during the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup. Photo / Thinkstock
Dunedin announces that they will play host for seven matches during the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup. Photo / Thinkstock

The beautiful game and some of its best young players are coming to Dunedin, with confirmation Forsyth Barr Stadium will host seven matches during the 2015 Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

The announcement of the seven cities - including Dunedin - to share hosting rights for the 24-team, 52-match football tournament came at a ceremony fronted by Prime Minister John Key in Auckland yesterday.

And Dunedin's share of the global spotlight was unveiled at a ceremony at Forsyth Barr Stadium shortly afterwards by deputy mayor Chris Staynes, stadium staff and Football South officials.

Dunedin's covered stadium - to be renamed Otago Stadium for the tournament - will stage six group games and one second-round ''pool of 16'' match during the tournament, which will run from May 30 to June 20.

More than 9000 fans are expected to be drawn to New Zealand, along with a television audience of more than 170 million people across 100 countries.

Which teams travel to Dunedin, and how many fans will follow them, will depend on which teams qualify, and then the draw.

Dunedin missed out to Hamilton on a quarterfinal, but Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, speaking from Auckland, was still celebrating yesterday.

''This is a wonderful outcome for the city and will be a great opportunity to showcase Dunedin,'' he said.

The rest of the matches will be shared between Auckland's North Harbour Stadium - which will host the final - and venues in Wellington, Hamilton, Whangarei, Christchurch and New Plymouth.

''Fantastic news'' was the response of Football South board chairman Matthew Holdridge, while Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive Darren Burden predicted a ''sporting spectacular''.

Cr Staynes said the visitors who came to the city would send ''money flowing into our economy''.

Tournament organising committee chief executive Dave Beeche was also excited by the outcome, after the council had earlier shelved an official bid to host games amid concerns about the cost.

''At the end of the day, we're really pleased that Dunedin's there and it's going to be a fantastic venue.

''We're going to deliver some amazing games there.''

Mr Beeche said logistics and population considerations - rather than any fallout from the axed bid - were the reasons Dunedin had missed out on a quarterfinal.

However, the council and DVML had managed to reach a more favourable cost-sharing deal with tournament organisers since baulking at a possible $1 million bill.

Yesterday, Mr Cull confirmed the new deal would cost ratepayers $150,000, while another $160,000 in non-cash council costs - such as staff time for road closures - would come from existing council budgets.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd - which lost about $300,000 from hosting 2011 Rugby World Cup games - would also at least break even on the 2015 Fifa games, chief executive Darren Burden said.

The company's share of the deal would see it reimbursed for all tournament-related costs by Fifa, as well as receiving a venue hire fee, he said.

''All things going well, we will do better than break even and hopefully make a small profit,'' he said.

As well, the ODT understands community fundraising co-ordinated by Football South had raised a significant sum towards tournament costs, although exact details were not available yesterday.

In return, DVML would pass all gate takings to tournament organisers, and provide a ''clean'' venue for Fifa's exclusive use during the city's part of the tournament, Mr Burden said.

That meant existing advertising signs and logos - including the Forsyth Barr Stadium sign on the venue's exterior wall - would need to be removed or covered, he said.

Mr Beeche told the ODT potential clashes with Super 15 rugby matches at some venues, including Dunedin, would be managed.

That meant some New Zealand Super 15 franchises could have away games scheduled during the Fifa tournament, while others used their other home venues, such as Invercargill, if needed, he said.

- Otago Daily Times

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