Cromwell enjoys vibe of tourney

Central Otago Sports Turf Trust chairman Michael Paardekooper relaxes at the Pioneer Energy Turf...
Central Otago Sports Turf Trust chairman Michael Paardekooper relaxes at the Pioneer Energy Turf before Saturday’s Tri-Nations playoff between New Zealand and Japan. Photo: Adrian Seconi
Cromwell has developed a taste for international hockey and there is talk of doing it all again.

The Central Otago town has hosted the Tri-Nations series between New Zealand, Australia and Japan over the past nine days.

It was the first international hockey staged at Pioneer Energy Turf and the event went smoothly, with more than 12,000 tickets sold.

Central Otago Sports Turf Trust chairman Michael Paardekooper said he had received positive feedback from Hockey New Zealand and the community had really swung in behind the event.

"I’m absolutely delighted. It has been better that our expectations," Paardekooper said.

"There has been a great atmosphere at the games and the buzz in the town has been tremendous. It has been way beyond what we thought it would be.

"Hockey New Zealand are delighted as well. They can’t believe the number of people who have turned up to watch the games, even in the cold."

The demand had been so strong, Paardekooper said, the decision was made to shift a fence back to accommodate more spectators and he was hoping for a record crowd of around 2000 for the final yesterday.

Paardekooper said there would be a debriefing following the event but he felt there was not much they could do differently.

"We are pleased with the set-up. We’re delighted with the shelter we have provided, delighted with the hospitality that has been provided and the hockey has been incredible."

Paardekooper said the event had been worth about $250,000 for the local community and had run at a profit.

"We got so much financial support from our sponsors Pioneer Energy, as well as the 53 small local businesses that bought 10 series tickets each.

"We are actually going to be able to put some money in the bank."

Aside from the financial boost, it had also done a lot for hockey in the region, he suggested.

"I wouldn’t want to be hockey organisers, because if they called for interest from people who wanted to play they would be flooded with the amount of interest.

"The Black Sticks have been to the schools and that went down really well. We’ve had open  training sessions which people have come along and watched.

"We’ve had coaching clinics and umpire lessons. There has been so much going on."

There are about 900 registered hockey players in Central Otago. The Pioneer Energy Turf, which received a $1.8 million upgrade two years ago, services players from Wanaka, Queenstown, Ranfurly, Alexandra and Roxburgh, as well as Cromwell.

Paardekooper is confident international hockey will return to the venue.

"I’m sure it will return. But my current thinking is in three to five years.

"But Hockey New Zealand, I’m sure, will be keen to talk to us again."

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