Poor turnout may keep 'Nix out of Dunedin

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2013
Phoenix fans
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LOYALTY: Some diehard Phoenix fans showed up in Dunedin, but not enough to make sure of a repeat fixture next season.

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It remains to be seen whether the Wellington Phoenix will be welcomed back to Forsyth Barr Stadium after two men and a dog turned up to watch the A-League clash against Melbourne Heart in Dunedin on Sunday.

The official crowd figure was 3060, seemingly too humbling for the rudderless Phoenix to comment on yesterday.

Forsyth Barr Stadium chief executive Darren Burden fronted, but struggled to hide his disappointment at witnessing what is believed to be the lowest home attendance for a Phoenix game.

"David (Phoenix general manager David Dome) and I met in September and our expectation was in the order of 8000-10,000 would be great," Burden said.

"If it was around 7000-8000 we would have been pretty happy, but that is the way it goes."

Burden would not divulge what the break even figure was.

"In terms of the numbers we got I don't think we quite made it to the break even point and we are pretty disappointed with it," Burden said.

"The issue for us is clearly we have good run of events down here lately and they have been really successful and this is the one that sticks out for us, to date, which hasn't meet with the expectations we really wanted."

Burden put the poor turnout down to a combination of the Phoenix's poor form and the more attractive football option of the All Whites' World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia at Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 22.

As for hosting the Phoenix next season should the opportunity arise, Burden sat on the fence.

"We'll have a debrief over the next couple of months and see how things might improve and go from there," Burden said.

"If the team had been performing better, been in the hunt for a playoff place, who knows what that could have translated to in terms of additional people coming along.

"It's the nature of sport, people don't want to come along and watch a losing team."

Ticket prices were adult $25, child $10, student $15 and a family pass (two adults and two children) $60.

The Phoenix have made two previous visits to Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The best parallel is in December 2011 when 4628 turned out for a game against Brisbane Roar. Close to 15,000 had come four months earlier for a pre-season game between the same two sides but that coincided with the opening of the indoor venue.

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- The Dominion Post

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