Big crowd expected when Phoenix hit Napier

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2013

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One of the key players in the Phoenix's foray into Napier believes a crowd of at least 10,000 is on the cards for the October 27 game at McLean Park.

The Phoenix will play Newcastle Jets in Hawke's Bay on Labour Weekend and the club also confirmed yesterday they would host Perth Glory at Christchurch's AMI Stadium on November 9.

Napier businessman and football enthusiast Tim Claudatos said the idea stemmed from a chat with Phoenix goalkeeping coach Jonathan Gould.

Claudatos then approached Sport Hawke's Bay's commercial manager Kevin Murphy and the pair set about drumming up support from local businesses.

"There's about 10 underwriters here in Napier that have got together and are supporting it," Claudatos said.

"McLean Park is a great venue and I'm pretty positive that we'll get 10,000 there. There's good support in this area and we'll be looking for support from other nearby cities. At the end of the day we're out to make a profit as well."

Claudatos said the break even crowd figure was less than 10,000 and any profit would be put in a kitty to attract further sporting events to the region.

Part of the appeal is the fact Napier hosts the national under-19 tournament over Labour Weekend.

"There's about 45 teams plus all the supporters and the refs," Claudatos said.

"The captive audience is about 3000 so we should get support from them as well. Hopefully we don't put the Yellow Fever fans off from coming and I hope they don't see it as us taking a game away from their home turf, you know."

That seems unlikely with Yellow Fever arranging a tour group for the weekend.

It will be a bumper weekend for sport in Hawke's Bay with the Silver Ferns playing Malawi at Pettigrew Green Arena on October 27.

But the early season schedule shapes as tricky for the Phoenix as they attempt to banish memories of last season's wooden spoon.

They open the A-League without their All Whites at Westpac Stadium on October 13 and won't return to their Wellington fortress until December 1.

The venue for the February 1 home game against Adelaide is yet to be confirmed.

Westpac's availability is uncertain until the schedule for India's cricket tour of New Zealand is confirmed later this month.

The Phoenix have pledged to play A-League games in Christchurch for the next three seasons.

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- The Dominion Post

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