8 Jun 2020

Fans return is a boost for business

6:32 pm on 8 June 2020

Stadium bosses, team chief executives and food vendors are welcoming the news that sports fans are now allowed back through the turnstiles.

Blues rugby fans

Fans will be back for the Blues versus Hurricanes games on Sunday at Eden Park. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand's professional sports teams in rugby, netball and basketball return to competition this month and filling the stands will be good for business.

Tickets are now on sale for Super Rugby Aotearoa as fans are being encouraged to get back to watching live sport in person.

Eden Park will host the second match of the new competition - the much anticipated clash between the Blues and the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon- and Eden Park chief exectuive Nick Sautner said he hoped for a ten year-high crowd.

Sautner said there is a plan in place to keep rugby crowds safe and he encouraged fans to pre-book so they can add their contact details to tickets.

"Obviously there's details that people will be putting into the ticketing system and we are encouraging people to pre-purchase, that will assist with queing on Sunday.

"There will be sanitising stations throughout the venue, there'll be hygiene promotion signage and there'll be additional cleaning of touched surfaces throughout the venue and obviously people will, if they so desire, access the QR code that will be available though the government tracing app."

Sautner said Eden Park and sports venues were severely affected by the Covid-19 lockdowns and he said it would be great to see casual workers coming back, especially in hospitality.

"We employ up to 3000 staff across all of the various service streams on an event day and as you can imagine for those families they've not been able to work at Eden Park for the last 12 weeks would have been terribly challenging."

Sports fans would also now be able to get a fix of their favourite game-day food.

Jeremy Mikoz from popular food truck Fritz's Wieners said getting back inside Wellington's Sky Stadium, which will host Hurricanes rugby games, would be a boost for business.

"It would definitely mean an increase of at least half our business being back up and running, obviously with the lockdown it was a good chunk of our income and our staff hours got reduced so getting back in there is going to help the business and it would be great to actually get back in and see the crowds back into the stadium enjoying the food and enjoying a little bit of company from other people."

Shannon Saunders of the Steel takes a ball from Kimiora Poi of the Tactix.

ANZ Premiership games could be played in the South Island. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The ANZ Premiership netball competition will resume on 19 June with all games to be played out of Auckland Netball Centre, which has a capacity of around 500 people.

Netball New Zealand will consider moving the second half of the 10-week competition to have home games in other parts of the country.

Southern Steel chief executive Lana Winders said getting fans back into stadiums in Invercargill and Dunedin would help the stadiums financially, but would also be important to the Steel's very loyal fanbase.

"They would be ecstatic. They were pretty disappointed to learn that all of the netball was being centralised to Auckland as part of the revised competition, they totally understood that the safety of the players came first but I think they were just gutted to not to be able to get to those games and be that vital eighth player that our team has when it comes to especially those close games," Winders said.

The New Zealand National Basketball League tips off on 23 June at Trusts Arena and league general manager Justin Nelson said "with a flick of the switch" fans would be able to attend the games at the west Auckland venue.

Mika Vukona

All NZ NBL games will remain in Auckland in 2020. Photo: Photosport

However hoops fans elsewhere in the country would have to watch their favourite players on TV as Nelson said they still would not be taking the competition on the road.

"The teams have been so severely hammered financially, even though our competition hadn't begun, the cost impact to the teams and the shortfall in revenue is so substantial that the league is underwriting this to the tune of $1 million this year, we just would not be a be able to have those games go back out to the regions."