The Bay of Plenty Steamers will play most of their home games in Rotorua this year - a first since the Steamers started playing matches at Mount Maunganui's Baypark Stadium in 2003.

The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union has opted to hold three home matches at the Rotorua International Stadium and two at Tauranga Domain this season.

No matches will be played at Baypark Stadium during the up-coming Mitre 10 Cup season (formerly the ITM Cup) with Tauranga Domain taking its place.

"Wherever possible, we want to share these type of fixtures around our region, because we are unique in that we have quite a big, diverse, wide, geographical region with the number of venues that can host games of this nature," Mike Rogers, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive, said.


"So that was the first and foremost thing in bringing three games to Rotorua this year, that we are engaging with the whole of the Bay of Plenty."

He said after they had made the decision to bring three games to the city they then looked at where they would hold the other two matches.

"The feedback from all of our supporters is that Baypark is not a venue that they enjoy going to watch rugby at, so for us it is important that we listen to that."

Mr Rogers said they received plenty of good feedback after hosting a match at Tauranga Domain last year, and it was a "no-brainer" to hold two further matches there this year.

Tauranga City Council is currently looking at the possibility of building a new stadium in the Tauranga area, and the BOPRU would certainly be in support of that move.

"In a Tauranga space, our supporters want a new facility. So, I guess, our responsibility as leaders of our sport is we need to support that and make sure that is communicated to the city leaders."

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Rogers said it had been a while since Rotorua had been given three home matches.

"You have to weigh it up. There is a significant population advantage in hosting games in Tauranga and the Western Bay where commercially it is growing and strong, so all those factors come into it. So it is a big decision to commit three games to Rotorua but it is the right decision," he said.

"And hopefully they are really successful, and the community show us it is important to them."

Mr Rogers said they were pleased to have a game day sponsor lined up for the three Rotorua games in Pukeroa Oruawhata Group.

Pukeroa Oruawhata client manager Peter Faulkner said there were quite a few benefits for the city having three games this season, including commercial benefit and community involvement.

"It is part of a big picture, it is not just rugby, but having events here is part of an overall strategy of getting Rotorua seen as the place to be and to come in the North Island. "We have the accommodation and we have the infrastructure and we have some really great facilities," he said.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said it was great to get the fixtures.

"Bay of Plenty Rugby wants to be more involved in our community and we support that.

"There are still details to be worked through but we want to see the Steamers in our community encouraging our Rotorua children around health and wellness. We have a great facility at Rotorua International Stadium and it is important that Rotorua hosts the Steamers and other Bay teams whenever possible. We have a lot of shared history with the Steamers and rugby is a passion for many in our community."

? Steamers matches this season in 2016 Mitre 10 Cup:
Pre-season: v Northland at Rugby Park, Whakatane - Friday, August 5, 3.00pm
Pre-season: v Auckland in Auckland - Friday, August 12, time TBC
Week 1: v Taranaki at Tauranga Domain - Saturday, August 20, 2.35pm
Week 2: v Counties Manukau at EcoLight Stadium, Pukekohe - Sunday, August 28, 4.35pm
Week 3: v Otago at Tauranga Domain - Sunday, September 4, 2.35pm
Week 4: v Northland at Rotorua International Stadium - Friday, September 9, 5.45pm
Week 5: v Wellington at Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Friday, September 16, 7.35pm
Week 6: v Southland at Rugby Park, Invercargill - Wednesday, September 21, 7.35pm
Week 6: v Auckland at Rotorua International Stadium - Sunday, September 25, 4.35pm
Week 7: v North Harbour at QBE Stadium, Albany - Saturday, October 1, 2.35pm
Week 8: v Manawatu at Rotorua International Stadium - Sunday, October 9, 4.35pm
Week 9: v Hawke's Bay at McLean Park, Napier - Saturday, October 15, 5.35pm
Semifinals: Friday 21 October - Sunday, October 23
Finals: Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29