Rugby: Highlanders season tickets in demand

Roger Clark.
Roger Clark.
Highlanders season tickets are selling well, with the franchise now having 5000 more ground members than four seasons ago.

The tickets went on public sale this week after a strong preferential sales period among existing season ticket holders and match-day ticket purchasers.

Existing season ticket holders were given the opportunity to renew their seats for the 2013 season at an early-bird discount of 30% and were also given the opportunity to sign up a mate for the same discount.

The response had thrilled Highlanders officials with the 2012 total of 3197 already passed, and the total has reached 3335 before seats have been offered for public sale.

Forsyth Barr Stadium has just under 3000 members on its books, so the total now stands at over 6000, which is well on the way to the overall target of 10,000.

The scheme to pay the tickets off by installment had proved popular and interest had also increased from fans outside Dunedin.

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark was very encouraged by sales to date and felt the decision to go to market early, in August, had been the right one.

"It's a great result to have such a high retention rate from last season, with around 95% of existing season ticket holders renewing their seats," he said.

"It's pleasing to see these ticket holders are also recommending mates sign up for the 2013 season, which is a very positive reflection of the match-day experience we are creating."

"We made a bold decision to go to market in August, which is the earliest we have ever gone, but with an early bird discount on offer and the opportunity to pay by installment, we feel the decision has been the right one."

Season tickets reached a low of 859 in 2009, when the side was struggling on the park and was still housed at Carisbrook.

But numbers have turned around remarkably in just four years.

"The growth has been remarkable to reach 6000-plus overall."

The pick-up has been for several factors, Clark said, including the Forsyth Barr Stadium, where people enjoyed watching rugby. The price of tickets was also attractive to many people.

"Our coach Jamie Joseph, and the development of our team over the past two years, has also been a big part of the interest in the offer."

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd made a $419,630 profit last season from hosting seven Highlanders games, which is the same number of Highlanders games the stadium will host next season.

Clark said compared with other New Zealand franchises, Highlanders tickets were the cheapest in the country.

Season tickets would continue to be on sale until the start of the season.

Research done by the Highlanders showed there was not a lot of support to sell season tickets for the Zoo, the end-of-ground enclosure to attract students.

The Zoo will continue to operate next season.

The Highlanders opening game next season is against the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium on February 22.

The side will assemble early next month to start pre-season training.


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