Hamilton will be buzzing this weekend, with two big international rugby games and the sold-out LAB concert at Claudelands on Saturday night drawing thousands of visitors to town.
On Saturday afternoon Tonga will be playing Samoa in a Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying match, before the All Blacks play their second Steinlager Series test against the Flying Fijians at FMG Stadium.
City council general manager venue tourism and major Events Sean Murray says: "It's a big day of rugby with at least 20,000 people expected for the All Blacks game. With the 6500 people from the LAB concert at Claudelands Arena, it is gonna be a pretty busy night."
The official All Blacks line-up for Saturday was announced today, but the hometown crowd hoping to see local boy Quinn Tupaea make his Hamilton debut as an All Black was disappointed to see his name missing from the list.
Waikato Herald asked the All Blacks camp if Tupaea was injured. Media Manager Joe Locke said "Quinn is not in the 23, but not injured."
Speaking to the media earlier, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said: "We had a couple of big head knocks that gives us the chance to move a few people around, but again, I am really happy with the combos we've got."
About playing in Hamilton, Foster said: "Hamilton is a great rugby ground and we haven't played here in a while. It will be a significant test match."
Cambridge boy Luke Jacobson, 24, who has been named as part of the team for Saturday, says playing in Hamilton, his home ground, will be a special moment for him and his family.
"I have quite a decent amount of family in Hamilton [...], it's my favourite ground. I have been watching games there for my whole life [...] and was lucky enough to play there before. So me playing [in Hamilton] again is top-notch."
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says the economic impact of the weekend events is great news for Hamilton and hopes local businesses would feel the positive impact.
"Hamilton will be pumping. Attendees at events like this inject a huge amount into the local economy. Hosting big international events also adds vibrancy and life to the city for those who live here. This weekend shows that, yet again, Hamilton is increasingly being seen as an events city."
Murray says he is expecting a boost in tourism. "Hamilton accommodation is already pretty full. Visitors will be in our bars, shops and restaurants, so the downtown area will be busy. Our teams are already gearing up as we have employed 300 extra contractors to help out with the events this weekend."
Fewer than 2000 tickets to the All Blacks game were still available mid-week available and can be purchased here. Gates at FMG Stadium Waikato open at 3pm on Saturday, with Tonga v Samoa kicking off at 4pm and All Blacks v Fiji at 7.05pm.
The Hamilton concert of Kiwi reggae band LAB sold out within minutes and will be the third show of the popular band's winter tour. Doors to the Claudelands Arena will open at 6.30pm with the concert starting at 7pm. For the concert, Heaphy Tce from Thames St to Brooklyn Rd will be closed from 7pm to 2am.
Murray is excited about Hamilton's big events. "I wouldn't miss the All Blacks game and I am trying to pop over to the concert as well. We normally get pressured with events in summer, so it is nice to have some action in winter."
Visitors are encouraged to use public transport, with road closures in place and traffic expected to be heavy. Fans with tickets to the rugby matches or the concert can ride free on any city or regional bus services operated by BusIt on Saturday.
Murray says: "Or use your bikes when you can. We have extra bike stands in place at the stadium just for the event."
From 2pm to 10pm, road closures around the FMG Stadium include Tristram St from Liverpool St to Willoughby St, Mill St from Norton Rd to Willoughby St, and Seddon Rd from Mill St to Goldsmith St.