Poor ticket sales for Phoenix warm-up game

TONY SMITH AND MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 21/09/2012

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Match promoters are banking on a big walk-up crowd on Sunday as they get set to woo the Wellington Phoenix and Western Sydney Wanderers to bring regular-season A-League matches to Christchurch's AMI Stadium.

Vbase general manager Russell Kenny admitted yesterday the 3500 pre-sales were "below expectations, which is disappointing".

"But we are expecting a big walk-up crowd because the weather is supposed to be fine at the weekend. We're disappointed we haven't got more [pre-sales] but we are hoping for 6500 to 7000, which, in that stadium would still generate a good atmosphere."

Vbase, the Christchurch City Council's venues management company, is promoting the Phoenix-Wanderers preseason match with a bigger picture in mind.

The Phoenix played two A-League competitions games against Adelaide United at the former AMI Stadium in Phillipstown in 2010, drawing crowds of 19,000 and 14,000.

Kenny confirmed Vbase would like to convince the Phoenix "to come back down for another Hyundai A-League game and we'll also be talking to the Western Sydney Wanderers CEO about bringing their Phoenix home game here".

He said a good crowd on Sunday could help convince the clubs that an A-League fixture in Christchurch was a viable option.

Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund, a former Canterbury United captain, would also like to see another A-League game in his hometown.

Sigmund scored the matchwinner with a last-minute header to give the Phoenix a 2-1 win in Christchurch over Adelaide in December 2010.

"I really hope we can get something organised so it can start happening again," he said. "There's a good football following down there, and everyone at the Phoenix is excited about coming to Christchurch again.

"The best way for us to keep coming down every year is to get another big crowd down to support us."

Kenny said Mainland Football officials estimated Sunday's preseason game could draw between 7000 and 8000 fans based on past attendances for Phoenix friendlies at the now-defunct Queen Elizabeth II Stadium.

Meanwhile, Sunday's third Constellation Cup netball test between New Zealand and Australia at Christchurch's CBS Canterbury Arena is on the verge of selling out.

At midday yesterday there were fewer than 100 tickets available for the match between the Commonwealth Games gold medallist Silver Ferns and the World Championship-winning Australian Diamonds. The capacity for the match is 5300.

A Netball New Zealand spokeswoman said the organisation was rapt with the response from the Christchurch public. It is understood tickets have not been so sought after in the Garden City since the World Championships in 1999.

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New Zealand clinched the three-match series 2-0 after winning the second test 50-49 in Auckland last night.

- The Dominion Post

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