Just 2100 tickets have been sold for the Anzac Day Aussie Rules clash at Westpac Stadium, but organisers say they are not pushing the panic button.
At the same time last year, about 8500 tickets had been sold for Melbourne-based St Kilda's first Anzac Day fixture in Wellington. The match against the Sydney Swans attracted a crowd of 22,183.
An AFL-commissioned report found the game contributed more than $9 million to the Wellington economy. Nearly 5000 Australians crossed the ditch to attend the game, and there was speculation that, in coming years, the figure could swell to 10,000.
However, organisers expect only about 2000 Australians to wing their way to the Cake Tin this year to watch St Kilda play the Brisbane Lions. Of the 2100 tickets sold so far, 800 have been bought in Australia.
St Kilda commercial projects general manager Ben Davies, who was in Wellington yesterday, said the club spent most of its marketing budget last year around a community camp it held in January.
But this year it had held back about 80 per cent of its "bigger marketing budget" to spend in the four-week leadup to the fixture.
"We haven't pushed go on any marketing campaign yet, so whilst ticket sales are a little bit soft at the moment, it is not overly surprising.
"We are due to see . . . a fairly aggressive above-the-line marketing campaign from April 1."
He agreed with estimates that about 2000 Aussies would make their way here this year, but retained a positive outlook on the likely overall match-day attendance.
"We are quite optimistic about it because of the great way Wellington has in the past hosted these big events."
Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks said the lower Australian visitor numbers could be because last year's opponents, the Sydney Swans, were the defending AFL champions, and they had a much larger supporter base than the Brisbane Lions.
But despite that, he was still eyeing last year's 22,183 attendance. "That figure is very much in mind while making sure Wellingtonians and people in nearby areas . . . feel motivated to go and have another look at AFL."
The advertising blitz starting next week would involve print, radio, TV, and digital media. "We and St Kilda can be quite nimble about it and look at what is working as we go along."
Tickets for the match on April 25 cost $25 or $45 for an adult, $5 or $9 for a child, and $50 or $98 for a family pass. Other concession- priced tickets are also available.
- The Dominion Post
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