City set for football fan influx
30,000 supporters to descend on WellingtonCOLLETTE DEVLIN
Thousands of football fans from Britain and Australia are heading for Wellington, and Westpac Stadium knows what they want - 10 tonnes of hot chips.
The city will be booming this weekend as more than 30,000 supporters are expected to descend on it for the Football United double-header clash featuring Newcastle United against Wellington Phoenix, and West Ham United against Sydney.
About 27,000 tickets had been sold by yesterday, and Phoenix general manager David Dome expected more to go once interest was piqued by games involving the teams in Auckland and Dunedin this week.
Most hotels in the city are already full for Friday and Saturday nights.
Restaurants and pubs are also expecting to be busy, with many tables booked for meals before and after kickoff.
Ciaran O'Kelly, owner of The Green Man pub in Victoria St, central Wellington, is gearing up for one of his busiest weekends, which he believes will be bigger than for an All Blacks test.
He has had special flags made for New Zealand West Ham fan group Kiwi Hammers, who will use his pub as a base. The pub has organised two buses to take fans to and from the game.
The fan club has 2000 members who are expected to be in town for the game, along with fans from Australia.
O'Kelly will decorate the pub in West Ham's claret and blue colours, and flags imported from Britain.
A playlist of music would be tailored for the fans, who have booked the pub for all day Saturday - but members of the public were welcome to join in, he said.
At Westpac Stadium, about 1000 staff are ready for the big night. Manager Shane Harmon said the pitch had held up well despite rain.
- The Dominion Post
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