Warriors, Phoenix express interest in using stadium

The New Zealand Warriors and the Wellington Phoenix have sent signed expressions of interest to the Carisbrook Stadium Trust, confirming their keenness to stage matches at the $198 million Otago stadium, if it goes ahead.

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah yesterday confirmed the rugby league club would investigate staging a pre-season match against an Australian-based National Rugby League team at the stadium if it was built.

And Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said he, too, would be interested in seeing the football club play a pre-season match in Dunedin, most likely against another Australian A-League team.

The two teams were among a list of clubs and organisations to respond to a letter from the trust seeking expressions of interest for the stadium.

Trust chairman Malcolm Farry declined yesterday to release the names of all those to reply favourably to the letter, ahead of a more detailed announcement expected within days; but confirmed the Phoenix and Warriors clubs had responded.

Mr Farry said there were also plans for a regular farmers market to be held at the stadium, although it was not known if the city's existing Saturday morning farmers market would relocate from the Dunedin Railway Station.

"I have had some receptive talks with them.

"That's all I can say at this stage," he said.

The Otago Daily Times understands others interested in using the stadium included the Weber Bros Circus, the New Zealand Masters Games, the Brass Band Association of New Zealand, plus wrestling, tennis and touch rugby groups and a variety of Otago clubs.

It was hoped the expressions of interest could be pursued with "significant amounts of urgency" once a final decision on the stadium's construction contract was made by councillors on April 20.

Asked who would underwrite any Warriors or Phoenix match in Dunedin, Mr Farry said it "depends on how good your negotiating ability is" but declined to comment further.

Mr Scurrah said he would expect the venue owner, in this case a proposed council-controlled company, or the Dunedin City Council directly to underwrite costs associated with the staging of any match.

The club's other touring pre-season matches, held at Waikato and North Harbour stadiums, had been commercially "quite successful", with crowds of 10,800 - on a wet night - and 16,500 respectively.

Costs associated with any Dunedin match, including transport of teams, their accommodation, and related expenses such as a referee's costs, meant a crowd of 10,000-12,000 would be needed, depending on ticket prices, for the event to break even.

Mr Pignata said the Phoenix would look to come south for four or five days, holding coaching clinics and a pre-season match, as had been done previously in Christchurch.

A crowd of about 6000 for a friendly match in Dunedin would be deemed a success.


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