Stadium caterer stung for more liquor-licence breaches

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:00 02/08/2014

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Westpac Stadium's caterer has been stung with more booze-related charges, this time from last Saturday's football double-header.

Spotless has already accepted responsibility for more than 100 breaches of its liquor licence for serving drunk and under-age spectators at this year's rugby sevens.

Next February's party will subsequently face tighter controls, as Spotless will have to apply for a special licence to serve alcohol.

Now police have confirmed they ran a controlled purchase operation - in which people under 18 try to buy alcohol - during the football.

"We did have some cops working at the stadium that day for the football match and they did identify some clear breaches of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act," Senior Sergeant Mark Buttar said. "At this stage, no enforcement action has been taken to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority."

However, the stadium's chief executive and police agreed the breaches represented a small blemish on an otherwise successful event.

Stadium boss Shane Harmon accepted there was some work to do. "Two breaches in a crowd of 30,000 is still two too many and we simply have to do better."

He judged the event the stadium's "best" this year, with few crowd problems. Fifteen people were evicted for intoxication and six turned away at the gate, he said.

"That's a huge success for a crowd of that size. It was a very well-behaved crowd for an event attended by a range of supporter bases. Yellow Fever [the Phoenix supporters group] have had a strong influence in that. They are a credit to the city and to their club."

Police were also impressed. "It was a fantastic event and the crowd was really well behaved," Buttar said. "We were pleased with the way that it was run - it was a good, family event and people were there to watch the football."

A Spotless spokesperson said the caterer had been informed of two fails by staff serving alcohol from 11 controlled purchase attempts by police during the football matches.

Police also made six CPO attempts at Easter's Super Rugby fixture, and Spotless passed them all, the spokesperson said.

Harmon said that, as the largest venue serving alcohol in Wellington, the stadium had to be a responsible host and he welcomed the frequent monitoring.

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority has released a document to The Dominion Post, detailing the 156 breaches at the sevens.

They included "anti-social, offensive and disorderly fans", some of whom were "invading the playing field", and others who were seen drinking without 18+ wristbands.

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But police also witnessed security turning away hundreds without wristbands or proper ID.

Harmon pledged there would be zero tolerance for "pre-loading" at next year's sevens.

"But the 99 per cent of the people who come to the sevens and are there to enjoy themselves and have a good time will notice little or no change."

He predicted more of a rugby focus to the tournament in coming years, as the 2016 event will host qualifying matches for the Rio Olympics.

"There will potentially be some major rugby stars from a variety of teams, so I think there will be renewed interest in the rugby."

- The Dominion Post

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