Costs tipped to swallow extra Cup revenue

8:57 pm on 17 March 2011

Shifting Rugby World Cup games away from Christchurch means more tickets can now be sold, though the Government is not counting on generating much extra revenue.

Government ministers and rugby officials decided on Wednesday to reassign the two quarterfinals and five pool games scheduled for Christchurch. The quarterfinals will now be played in Auckland.

The city's stadium can hold about 20,000 people more than the quake-damaged AMI stadium.

However, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully says he expects that the extra costs involved in shifting the games and moving other matches to smaller South Island venues will probably cancel out extra revenue.

The Government says the event is forecast to lose $39 million.

Pool match venues undecided

The International Rugby Board says there are no guarantees that all of the pool matches moved from Christchurch will stay in the South Island.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker has made a plea for those matches to remain in the south, saying Cantabrians dealing with the effects of the recent quakes will find it hard to travel north.

International Rugby Board chief executive Mike Miller says that preference is shared by the Government, the Rugby Union and his board.

He says it is possible most of the matches will stay in the South Island, but that cannot be guaranteed for all of them.

A decision on the games will be announced by the end of the month.

Key defends time frame

The Labour Party has accused the Government of needlessly stringing Cantabrians along over the Rugby World Cup.

Leader Phil Goff says he understands the reason for the decision to move the games, but does not understand why it was not announced sooner.

Prime Minister John Key says all possible options had to be exhausted first.

Mr Key says the Government received information about hotel accommodation only very recently, and that was one of the deciding factors.

Auckland ready to cope

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says his city is more than capable of holding the extra quarterfinals.

He says he feels for Canterbury but is aware how critical the event is for the country and is offering assurances his city can deliver.

The Hospitality Association says bed and restaurant space will not be a problem.

Auckland regional manager Astrid Fisher says the extra games are happening a week away from the quarterfinals Auckland was already hosting.

She says the extra visitors will not be more than the city copes with during the normal peak summer season.

Alex Swney from business group Heart of the City describes Auckland as a reluctant beneficiary but the best alternative by far.

He says the city's stadium can seat 60,000 people, which will allow the country to benefit more from the matches.