The Napier City Council is taking a tentative approach to the possibility of staging New Zealand's IRB Sevens rugby tournament at McLean Park.

Mayor Bill Dalton said council staff had "looked at" the possibility and will consider it further if it's offered.

However, he doubts the potential after dismal crowd numbers at the tournament this year meant it ran at a loss for the first time in its 18 years at Wellington's Westpac Stadium, where it had attracted yearly crowds exceeding 30,000.

The tournament's earlier success, buoyed by what is now a watered-down party atmosphere, was a significant factor in the growth of the IRB World Sevens series and rugby's return to the Olympic Games, even if only in its mini-format.


"We have certainly had a look at it, but we're not actively seeking it," said Mr Dalton.

The council has been active in recent years in attracting other major events to McLean Park such as a rugby test between the All Blacks and Argentina and an Australian NRL rugby league match between Melbourne Storm and St George Illawarra Dragons, both in 2015.

But he said the sevens tournament "seems to have done its dash" and was not as popular as it had been in earlier years.

Hawke's Bay Rugby Union chief executive Mike Bishop said the New Zealand union had asked for expressions of interest.

These would include Wellington deciding whether it wished to continue holding the tournament, which this year was held on the last weekend of January but which had previously been held on a week late, sometimes coinciding with Waitangi Day.

If it were to be seriously considered for Hawke's Bay, the union would work with the city council, but he said a lot of issues needed to be considered, including availability of accommodation for teams from at least 16 countries and visitors.

According to reports, Auckland, Hamilton, Dunedin and Christchurch are being touted as possible hosts as the IRB and New Zealand Rugby Union move to revitalise the tournament, although the New Zealand Rugby Union has asked all provincial unions for expressions of interest.