John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Blues' box patrons not all loyal

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

You know the Blues are having a lean rugby season when even free food and plonk struggles to attract the corporates.

Though Friday's victory over the South African Lions had long-suffering Blues fans cheering, attendances continue to be dismal at Eden Park - even in the corporate boxes.

Wayne Silver, his daughter Nicole Horton and her husband Bram watched the game from the BNZ corporate box.

"When I told my workmates I was going, they felt sorry for me," Bram said.

Silver saw plenty of vacant tables inside the boxes and empty seats outside them. However, Simon Arkwright, of Sports Research Group, said corporate box attendance as a percentage was likely to be holding up. This was partly because suiteholders felt obliged to attend in bad times. Most signed leases spanning five to 10 seasons.

Eden Park general manager of sales and marketing Tracy Morgan said boxes were sold to small rugby-mad businesses as well as big corporations.

"We've got a few suiteholders who are closer to what you would call syndicates. They're a group of committed smaller businesspeople who've got together. It's very much a passion for them, as opposed to a purely business hospitality opportunity."

At least one small business was feeling the impact of the Blues' bad run. On Friday, Whangaparaoa coach driver Johnny Wilson only had two people on his bus. The whole company only carried 43 people from Takapuna on four coaches. Wilson said that was a quarter of their normal custom.

- Herald on Sunday

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