'Walk-up' crowds penalised by higher gate fees
Ill-prepared families are being "stung" by Manawatu Rugby Union pricing aimed at reducing walk-up crowds for Manawatu Turbos games in favour of online sales.
The cheapest price for a walk-up family - two adults and two children - to see the next Turbos game against North Harbour at the FMG Stadium gate is $55.
This is $15 more than it will cost the same family to walk up to any other home provincial rugby match from the Hurricanes catchment.
The embankment at Hawke's Bay's Ranfurly Shield defence this weekend costs $40 for a family. Three children and two adults can walk up to a Wellington home game for $40. A five-person family can make a last-minute entry to a Taranaki home game for $33.
Manawatu Rugby Union chief executive John Knowles said the union was "carefully watching" prices after copping it from grumbling families after the Auckland home game.
But the best way for those families to avoid being "stung" was to be prepared. "All of the people that say it is too high need to buy their tickets online.
"Most of our pricing is about making sure we reduce the number of people just rocking up on the day.
"The more people that do that, the more the agency have to put staff on and the higher costs we have."
FMG Stadium was already one of the most expensive venues in the country to use - from the cost of hiring generators for the lights, to the fact that the union could not make money from food vendors, Mr Knowles said.
The costs had to be made up somewhere and late-deciding families were the ones being hit hardest because of that, Mr Knowles said.
He did not believe this would put many families off coming to the Turbos. "It's more about circumstances with people who walk up - it's about how the Turbos are going, what the game means to them and whether they are going to get wet.
"I honestly don't think if you chopped $5 off that ticket that we'd have more turning up."
Negotiations with the Palmerston North City Council about changing the food vendor situation were taking place and if there was movement, prices could also move, Mr Knowles said.
Manawatu Rugby Supporters Club committee member Barrie Angland said the age-old issue of pricing would not be such a big deal if facilities were better.
"There were a lot of families there for the Auckland game on the embankment and it was great to see, but with that cost, if it starts to rain it is a bit rough to expect kids to sit out there without a roof covering them.
"If you're going to charge that price you've got to provide something a bit better than what they are."
The situation was not being helped by the fact the Turbos were not playing to their potential, Mr Angland said.
Arena Manawatu manager David Walsh said the cost of putting on a game at FMG Stadium was reasonable and comparable to venues around New Zealand.
The Manawatu Rugby Union set prices, but those who felt they were too high needed to feel the atmosphere of a game at that stadium rather than moaning about them while watching it on television, Mr Walsh said.
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- © Fairfax NZ News
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