Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Peter Barr is calling on rugby fans in the top of the south to get behind the Crusaders, with Nelson's Trafalgar Park being confirmed as the location for the team's next two home Super Rugby matches.
With Christchurch's AMI Stadium out of action after this week's earthquake, Friday's match against the New South Wales Waratahs and the March 11 battle with the Brumbies have been moved to Nelson.
A decision will be made on the remaining six matches after that, but it is expected that AMI Stadium will be unavailable for the rest of the Super Rugby season.
The TRU has a week to get Trafalgar Park ready. Mr Barr said he did not see that as a problem.
"We're pretty experienced at running rugby matches, and we've done four Super Rugby matches before, so it's just another game of rugby as far as we're concerned.
"Given the short time frame, there are challenges, but we're confident that we'll put on a first-class event, and we hope that the top of the south gets behind Canterbury and the Crusaders in particular, and comes along to the game."
The Nelson City Council has provided the ground free of charge.
Mr Barr said the TRU was keen to help its colleagues in Canterbury as much as possible, and would consider fundraising ideas next week.
Both matches will kick off at 7.35pm. Tickets will range from $15 to $35 for adults, and $8 to $15 for children. There will be 1700 temporary seats at the southern end of the ground, bringing its capacity to about 12,000.
The Crusaders squad is expected to arrive on Thursday and head back to Christchurch the day after the match.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said he was pleased to keep the matches within the franchise region. "While we can't play at our first-choice home ground for now, Nelson is still a real home for the Crusaders, and we're looking forward to Crusaders fans in the region coming out to support the team for these first two home games.
"I am very thankful that our provincial union partner Tasman has been quick to respond to our need, and they have been fantastic in getting ready to host these games.
"We are especially grateful to the Waratahs and the Brumbies, who have willingly agreed to change their travel schedules from Australia to accommodate our change of venue."
Tonight's scheduled match between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes was called off this week, with the sides taking two points each.
Crusaders board member Philip McDonald, from Ashburton, died in the quake.
Tickets will be on sale from Tuesday at ticketdirect.co.nz, or by calling 0800224224.
- The Nelson Mail