Price to blame for empty seats: ARU - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Price to blame for empty seats: ARU

By Glenn Cullen 10/11/2003 06:23:01 AM Comments (0)

The Australian Rugby Union admitted over-priced ticketing was a major factor in showpiece Rugby World Cup quarter-finals failing to sell out.

A disappointing crowd of 33,134 turned out to see France down Ireland at the 52,000-seat capacity Telstra Dome in Melbourne on Sunday night while Saturday's quarter-finals also failed to attract full houses.

There were more than 11,000 empty seats at Saturday's New Zealand-South Africa match at Telstra Dome while some 6,500 seats remained unfilled at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium when the Wallabies played Scotland.

"We are sticking up our hand here on price certainly being a factor," ARU spokesperson Strath Gordon said today.

"You don't get a `walk up' (crowd) at all when these are tickets to quarter-final matches that are priced between $200 and $300.

"We think in hindsight price did become an issue but at the end of the day we have sold 173,297 tickets to quarter-final matches and they are pretty good sales figures."

The ARU found itself stuck with thousands of returned tickets - largely the expensive `A category' - from the International Rugby Board but did not reduce the price of them prior to the match.

The result was great chunks of seating left empty for the Telstra Dome clash while Suncorp Stadium recorded its second lowest crowd figure for the tournament in the seven matches it had hosted prior to Sunday's England-Wales game.

Gordon said that the ARU did not suffer much financially because thousands more tickets had actually been sold while the IRB had also paid for many of the unsold tickets.

"We are still smack bang on target for our projected surplus of around $45 million," Gordon said.

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