9 Sep 2009

Downturn could push Rugby World Cup loss higher

9:50 pm on 9 September 2009

Organisers of the 2011 Rugby World Cup believe a projected $30 million loss is likely and may go higher due to the economic downturn and uncertainty over ticket sales.

A ceremony was held at Waikato Stadium on Wednesday to mark exactly two years before the opening match in the tournament between the All Blacks and Tonga.

The Government has agreed to underwrite the $30 million loss. Prime Minister John Key says he is not overly concerned, as the Government views it as more than just a sporting event. He is confident it will be a success.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden says the $30 million projection is under pressure, given the economic situation, but an increase will not amount to a blowout, given the total budget of about $300 million.

Mr Snedden says ticket sales are the only source of revenue for organisers, with the International Rugby Board taking revenue from broadcast rights and sponsorship.

Mr Snedden says ticket prices will be similar to those in France in 2007, with the average cost ranging from $350 for the quarter-finals to $800 for the final.

He says there will be a system of interest free payment to help make the tickets more affordable.

Doubt cast on Dunedin stadium

Dunedin's new $200 million enclosed stadium may not be finished when the tournament starts in two years' time, Mr Snedden has acknowledged.

Mr Snedden says work being done on the six other stadiums around the country will be completed well in advance of the World Cup, but the new Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin will go down to the wire.

Mr Snedden says it would be great if the new stadium could be showcased during the three matches allocated to the city, but if it is not ready in time, the games will be played at Carisbrook.

He expects the Eden Park redevelopment in Auckland to be finished by September 2010, the Whangarei, Nelson and Taranaki projects to be completed by mid 2010 and Christchurch and Napier work to be finished by the end of this year.

Auckland preparations

The groups in charge of preparing the Auckland region say they're on track but critics say there's woefully inadequate funding for some areas.

The Eden Park redevelopment board says it will meet the deadline for completion of the revamped stadium in a year.

The chair of the Rugby World Cup Regional Steering Group, Rachael Dacy, says the organisation is on track to deliver a successful tournament.

But the Auckland Regional Transport Authority says it's a long way off being ready to move thousands of fans.

There is still a $20 million shortfall for the redevelopment of Queens Wharf into what is being dubbed 'party central'.

The Kingsland Business Society says inadequate funding means town centres will only get a light once over.

Auckland City Mayor John Banks says the recession meant funding had to be cut.