Will cheaper tickets draw you to Waikato Stadium to watch rugby?
Rugby bosses are planning hefty ticket price reductions for this weekend's clash with Taranaki in Hamilton in an attempt to halt plummeting takings.
Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Graham Bowen is blaming television coverage - which he describes as "a bit too good" - for gate takings that have been declining steadily since 2006.
"Sky [Television] viewership has grown significantly," he told the Waikato Times yesterday.
For the first two home games against Northland and Otago, Sky TV viewership was 139,000, a fact Mr Bowen said showed people were watching the Ranfurly Shield games but not going to them.
It was important for the team to have a large crowd of fans at the match, he said.
"[The team] always remark how great it is to run out to a big number there. When you've only got about 3500, it's quite echoey."
He said while the crowd numbers had been on a steady downward trend for years, they had seen about a 25 per cent drop since the Otago game in August, from about 4500 fans to 3500.
While the rugby union was looking at the entertainment provided, along with the cost of food and beverages at Waikato Stadium, miserable winter weather could also have accounted for lower crowd turnouts, Mr Bowen said.
"We are playing the block of it through August and September when the weather is a bit iffy."
Waikato fan Dean Charleton was "disgusted and appalled" at the turnout for the Ranfurly Shield defence game against Otago in August.
"It was heartbreaking," he said.
"It's New Zealand's most prized rugby trophy in terms of a provincial level."
While Mr Charleton's vision is not the best - he can see only about a metre in front of him, the rest looks like a "fogged-up glass window" - he said nothing beat the atmosphere of a good home match.
"I can see the wonderful colours, that's the main thing."
Mr Charleton believed rugby saturation could be to blame for poor turnouts but said that dropping ticket prices should "theoretically" help.
He also thought fans in larger regions seemed to appreciate the Ranfurly Shield competition less than in smaller provinces.
It was important, he said, for fans to show up and give the team "the extra lift that can be needed".
Mr Charleton also thought more games should kick off in the afternoon rather than the usual 7.30pm kickoff time.
Under 14s: Free ticket to the Wel Networks Stand if accompanied by a paying adult (down from $6.50).
Students: Two Greenzone tickets for $15.
Adults: Prices down for tickets outside the 22-metre line, with two adult uncovered tickets going for $20 and two covered tickets for $30.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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