Southern Stampede fans ready to roar
The loud thunder that roared above the Wakatipu during an impressive electrical storm last night will be nothing compared with the storm created by hundreds of passionate Southern Stampede fans tomorrow night.
For the first time since the league started in 2005, the grand final between the Stampede and Canterbury Red Devils will be held in the resort tonight and Queenstown Ice Arena owner Dan Graham is expecting a deafening display of support from the sell-out crowd.
''The thunder was loud, it was a pretty big storm. But, it wouldn't be anything close to that of the Stampede fans.''
''It feels like the whole building is shaking when they score, so let's hope they score,'' Mr Graham said.
The Queenstown arena was easily the loudest in New Zealand and players often commented on it, he said.
''The stands are metal scaffolding which we set up for the event and fans tend to stomp on them and it can be rather intimidating for visiting players,'' he said.
One Auckland-based blogger who covers games for the American, Australian and New Zealand leagues said she hadn't been to an arena as loud as Queenstown since she attended a Chicago Black Hawks match with a crowd of 18,000, he said.
With power cut to the rink during last night's wild weather, the Stampede was forced to cancel its final practice. Co-owner Ted Graham said emergency lighting powered by a generator was better than expected, but the side was reluctant to risk practicing in poor light so had rescheduled training.
''We're going to close at 8pm tonight instead of 10pm to allow the boys to have another two hour practice session,'' he said.
Disappointed fans who missed out on tickets to the 500-capacity final, have a couple of options thanks to the generosity of sponsors who donated funds via fundraising platform Pledge Me to enable the game to be streamed live over the internet.
The match will be screened live at Searle Lane Bar in central Queenstown. Searle Lane owner James Arnott said they could host a maximum of 400 fans and been fielding enquiries from excited fans over the past two days.
The Southern Stampede will take on the Canterbury Red Devils in the Queenstown Gardens at 7pm tomorrow night.
- © Fairfax NZ News