24 Sep 2011

No hold ups at Eden Park for All Blacks vs France

11:21 pm on 24 September 2011

Officials say there were no major hold-ups for crowds at Auckland's Eden Park for the All Blacks match against France.

The opening match of the Rugby World Cup tournament was plagued with delays, with dozens of fans missing the game.

Police say crowds at Eden Park and the downtown fan zone have been well behaved.

They say it appears most people were seated on time on Saturday night, with no obvious delays.

Organisers of the city's fan zone at Queen's Wharf say it almost reached its capacity of 12,000 and people were then told to go to Captain Cook Wharf.

Organisers say nearly 25,910 people travelled to the Eden Park match on public transport, with 10,700 of them going by train.

Extra transport was laid on in preparation for the match, with 100 special event buses running from the Britomart Transport Centre to the stadium, free of charge to ticketholders.

About 100 extra train services were available and train operator Veolia Transport also put trains and buses on standby.

Auckland Council says it opened Eden Park earlier to try to reduce pre-match drinking in a nearby suburb.

In addition, police planned to patrol bars and pubs an hour earlier to avoid what happened before last weekend's match, when drinkers spilled onto the main road in Kingsland.

But businesses near the stadium did not believe the new crowd control measures would work. They are also asking for New North Road to be closed, but police say that is not possible as it is a major arterial route.

Auckland Council to compensate fans

Meanwhile, Auckland Council hopes to settle compensation by early next week with 462 fans who missed, or were late to, the opening game due to train delays.

Chief executive Doug McKay said the council understands the urgency and will contact those affected on Friday.

"We'd like to redress the situation with an offer of tickets and with only a number of weeks left now we need to move quickly."

The council's events agency has decided not to bring forward the opening of three regional fan zones from their scheduled start at quarter-final weekend.

General manager Rachel Dacy says they looked at the idea after opening night overcrowding downtown, but found it would not necessarily mean fewer people would head to the waterfront.