The Wellington Phoenix will take home games to Napier and Christchurch in the upcoming A-League football season.
The round 3 game on Sunday, October 27 against Newcastle Jets will be played at McLean Park in Napier and the round 5 match against Perth Glory will be played at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome said that the decision to take the games to Napier and Christchurch were for quite different reasons.
“A large number of fans have been asking us for some time to take a game to Napier on Labour weekend as it coincides with the national Under 19 tournament staged there every year” Dome said.
“[And] our past games in Christchurch have been excellent and we wanted to show our support for the Garden City as the rebuild gets under way,’’ Dome said.
The Christchurch game will be on familiar territory for former Canterbury United players Ben Sigmund and Jeremy Brockie.
The Phoenix confirmed they may play one game a season in Christchurch for the next three seasons should the schedule permit.
"Vbase in Christchurch who run AMI Stadium approached us with the idea of us playing regularly in Christchurch" Dome said.
"This is how we as a football club can help Christchurch in our way - by scheduling football matches there and supporting the local football community and at the same time giving AMI Stadium an extra game per year to hopefully pull some revenue in for the City."
Vbase General Manager Russell Kenny said it was important for Canterbury that AMI Stadium continues to host quality sporting events.
"Sport is a huge part of life in this region and AMI Stadium is central to the sporting community" Kenny said.
"The Phoenix playing here is part of that and we've had an excellent relationship with the Phoenix in the past and we are very excited about the return of A-League football to AMI Stadium".
"Up until now, we have not been able to find a partner to make this happen, but this year thanks to a consortium of progressive local business people led by Tim Claudatos, we are thrilled to be able to make this happen."
Napier businessman Tim Claudatos said the hosting of a Phoenix match in Napier was a huge honour for the region.
"Napier has a strong football community and the idea of hosting the Phoenix in a competitive A-League match is hugely exciting for all of us involved in football in the Hawkes Bay" said Claudatos.
"We're looking forward to combining the U19 tournament and welcoming the Phoenix and Yellow Fever and having a huge football event at Labour weekend.
"Who knows, if this goes well maybe we can get the Phoenix to come back again"
The final game in the Phoenix's 2013/14 schedule still to be confirmed is the Round 17 match on February 1. This venue for this game is partly dependent on the availability of Westpac Stadium due to the Indian cricket team's tour of New Zealand during this month, which is not expected to be confirmed until the end of June.
- The Dominion Post