NZ on target for 2011 Rugby World Cup - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ on target for 2011 Rugby World Cup

By Chris Foley 07/09/2010 10:22:59 AM Comments (0)

A year out from hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup the organisers maintain the foundations of the promised "Stadium of Four Million" are well in place despite the problems they still face.

Ticket sales are meeting expectations and most stadium upgrades are on track but there are questions about security, liquor laws and accommodation that need to be addressed.

Genial organising committee boss Martin Snedden is confident it will all come together even though many of the issues are outside his control.

The "Stadium of Four Million was a great bid concept and, with only 12 months to go, I am sure that, step by step, our 'stadium' is truly coming to life," he said.

Snedden believes the Cup planning has covered every eventuality including the possibility of an earthquake such as the powerful tremor that devastated Christchurch last weekend.

A preliminary assessment of Christchurch's AMI Stadium, which will host five pool games and two quarter-finals, indicated no structural damage but "a heap of minor breakages", Snedden said.

The quake struck just days after the organisers had looked specifically at how such a situation would be handled if it were to arise during the tournament.

"It's just a reminder that it's just not theory, it actually can happen, and that will no doubt focus us even further."

Of the stadiums in the other main centres, the showpiece venue at Auckland's Eden Park is undergoing a $NZ240 million ($A190 million)redevelopment which is scheduled to be finished well before the opening match between the All Blacks and Tonga on September 9.

However, Wellington's Westpac Stadium needs to be completely reclad because of a problem with leaks, and construction of Dunedin's new stadium, New Zealand's first with a roof, is on a tight deadline.

The southern city's aged Carisbrook Stadium, whose facilities are often criticised as outdated, will be resurrected as a back up venue.

Stadium security has also been targeted with a weekly newspaper exposing glaring problems.

Reporters, disguised as construction workers, were able to enter Eden Park unchallenged and stand beside police bomb squad officers during a cricket Test.

They were also able to enter stadiums in Hamilton and Christchurch with toy explosives in a bag and were never searched.

Rugby Players Association boss Rob Nichol described the ruse as a "wake-up call" for those in charge of security, while World Cup organisers pledged the problems would be addressed.

"We'll be leaving no stone unturned," said Gavin McFadyen, a former assistant police commissioner who heads the World Cup security, noting that VIPs including royalty would be attending.

A year out from the Cup, 400,000 individual tickets are about to go on sale after 600,000 were sold in package deals earlier in the year.

"This is a great start and is clear evidence that both New Zealand and overseas fans will strongly support this tournament," Snedden said.

But he conceded that price-gouging by some accommodation outlets could have an impact and there were already indications some Australian supporters would fly in and out on the Wallabies' match days.

With the World Cup projected to draw up to 85,000 visitors, the organisers, in conjunction with the tourism industry, are keen to make their stay a pleasant social experience.

But it clashes with a drive to tighten New Zealand's liberal alcohol laws.

The government has accepted the need to rid New Zealand of its binge-drinking reputation but there is a reluctance to enforce any changes before the World Cup.

A New Zealand Herald editorial accused the government of "putting the ugly side of our country on show to the world as the battle for the bottle takes as much focus as the battle for the William Webb Ellis trophy".

But the argument does not hold with Prime Minister John Key who said people would come to New Zealand primarily for the rugby and "to enjoy the very best of New Zealand and that might include some alcohol ... but it's not limited to that."

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