Netball, let's take this outside

Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014
Fairfax NZ

TRANS-TASMAN CLASH: Let's take this outside

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Every New Year's Day in the US, the National Hockey League, usually an indoor sport, plays an outdoor fixture. It's an awesome spectacle typically involving two marquee teams and a huge audience.

This year's game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs attracted more than 105,000 spectators in Michigan.

Could a sport that is typically played indoors in Australia or New Zealand be staged outdoors with success?

Though the marketplace and population are much smaller and some serious logistics would have to be resolved, wouldn't netball be an ideal sport? A netball test at, say at AMI Park in Melbourne or Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Australia versus New Zealand internationals are typically blockbuster contests. Of the 115 games played between the two countries, 59 have been decided by five goals or less.

Games between Australia and New Zealand are always fast, gripping and entertaining. More importantly, games between the two never have any problems selling out - often big arenas.

Melbourne's Hisense Arena, with a captaincy of 10,500, is a frequent host of netball tests, as is Vector Arena in Auckland with its capacity of 12,000.

People go and they make a racket - netball crowds are as fervent as any sporting crowds in Australasia.

The novelty of playing outside is bound to attract non-netball people.

Besides, it's not uncommon for the sport to be played outside. Thousands of girls in both countries play club matches outside and even internationals used to be held outdoors, the 1987 World Championships were held outdoors in the cold of Glasgow.

Logistically the match would be best held in the summer to avoid the risk of poor weather. But this match can't be like cricket where they go off for shadows, a little bit of rain and wind are just other elements to add to the excitement.

To maximise the cost of such an event, it might be worth adding five minutes to the end of each quarter so the fans get more bang for their bucks.

Add some original entertainment and corporate hospitably and you have yourself a memorable night out.

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