Concert fans race to find a city bed

Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Dunedin accommodation is already bulging at the seams as the city prepares to be flooded by music fans for three major concerts at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The shows by Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond and Fleetwood Mac between April and November are poised to pull bumper crowds, and the race is on to secure the last few beds in the city, the Otago Daily Times has been told.

The demand has forced some Rod Stewart fans to take motel rooms as far away as Balclutha and Oamaru ahead of the singer's April 11 show.

It also meant virtually every available commercial bed in Dunedin was snapped up within hours of Fleetwood Mac's November 18 concert announcement last Friday, Otago Motel Association president Chris Roy said.

''It's the fastest I've seen anything shift - faster than an All Blacks test,'' he said.

''Every second call at the moment is for the 18th of November - Fleetwood Mac.''

The phone was continuing to ring, and he expected more fans seeking accommodation would be disappointed once tickets went on sale next week.

''We haven't got anything.''

I-Site manager Louise Van de Vlierd agreed, saying ''by Friday lunchtime, it looked like there wasn't a bed in town'' for Fleetwood Mac.

Despite that, staff were still being ''swamped'' by requests for accommodation - particularly for Fleetwood Mac's show - with interest coming from ''all over'' the South Island, and parts of the North Island.

''Certainly, there's very, very good New Zealand support for it - it's brilliant.''

Fleetwood Mac tickets would go on public sale next Wednesday, but demand for the Rod Stewart and Neil Diamond shows already appeared stronger than expected.

Stewart's promoters yesterday said more than 20,000 tickets had been sold, with more than 60% bought by people outside Dunedin.

The ODT understands ticket sales could be significantly higher, with suggestions 20,000 had been sold by Christmas, but promoters would not disclose exact figures yesterday.

A crowd of over 20,000 was also rumoured for Neil Diamond's October 24 show, and Dunedin Venues Management Ltd staff have predicted ''incredibly strong'' sales for Fleetwood Mac.

Ms van de Vlierd said, as a result, two University of Otago halls of residence would be available for Fleetwood Mac fans seeking a bed, once the last commercial offerings were gone.

However, the demand has also fuelled concerns about price-gouging and extended minimum stays by some operators.

One Fleetwood Mac fan, who did not want to be named, said he had baulked at paying the $1200 a night tariff advertised by one Dunedin accommodation provider.

Instead, he rented a private home at $495 a night - still nearly four times the normal rate advertised for the same property.

He found the ''price-gouging'' by some accommodation providers ''quite offensive'' but was left with little choice.

''There were no hotels left. It is a real shame.''

Mr Roy, of the Otago Motel Association, said he was not in favour of ''excessive overpricing'', but tariff hikes and minimum stays were ''common practice'' for big events.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said some price hikes and minimum stays were ''basic economics'' and ''generally accepted'', but some operators could ''push those boundaries''.

''I think operators have got to really be careful that they don't price themselves out of the market. What we certainly don't want to see is that detracting from the overall city offering, which is a concert that can bring significant benefit to all parties.

''I would like to think that they would be mature enough not to be gouging to the extent that it turns away people from visiting the city.''

But problems in Dunedin appeared to be Balclutha's gain, as Highway Lodge Motel owner Jean Austin said she already had ''four or five'' bookings by Rod Stewart fans.

She hoped for more from Fleetwood Mac fans, saying bookings associated with stadium events were picking up.

''We've had a few events there now that we've been able to benefit from. It's been good.''

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