Hood St rugby closure canned

'Professional jealousy' blamed

Last updated 10:28 01/08/2012
NO Go: Fans gather infront of the big screen at the Fan zone in Hood street Hamilton during the Rugby World Cup.

NO Go: Fans gather infront of the big screen at the Fan zone in Hood street Hamilton during the Rugby World Cup.

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Plans to close Hood St for a Super 15 rugby final fan zone were pulled by city council staff just minutes before councillors met this morning to discuss it.

A delegation of Hood St business owners had complained they were not consulted over the plans, put forward by city hospitality consortium Phoenix Group.

Phoenix Group director Jason Macklow told councillors his company had been prepared to foot the entire cost of the proposal, and blamed "professional jealousy" for the complaints.

"I think this final has the potential to be bigger than the Rugby World Cup, when you've got people queuing up at 2am, it's going to be a massive sellout. We were willing to pay for the entire event, and from a commercial perspective that's not the most intelligent decision i've ever made."

"I think it's a shame that the city gets bullied around," said Mr Macklow.

Rival bar owner John Lawrenson had earlier complained to councillors that he and other businesses had not been consulted about the proposed closure and it hurt their trade.

"We support a fanzone in Garden Place, which is what we thought it was designed for, but not in Hood St," he said.

Hood St cafe owner Todd Morris said in the year and a half he had been in business on the street there had been about eight closures: "I've never known until they closed the street off. There's just never any consultation."

Mr Morris and Cullens restaurant owner Andrew Cullen said closures dramatically cut their business.

Council events and economic development general manager Sean Murray said staff had made the decision to withdraw the request to close Hood St this morning following reaction from a group of business owners opposed to the plan.

He said the Phoenix Group proposal had been "bolted on to the side" of council planning for the event, and overall scrapping the idea would not compromise promotional efforts.

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- Waikato Times


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