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Rugby fans will have to spend an average of $750 for a seat at the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, official documents have revealed for the first time.
But there is no indication Otago and Southland fans will be charged inflated prices for pool games at Carisbrook and Rugby Park.
The new Government is "nervous" about picking up the tab for a hefty blow-out if punters will not pay up for the pricey tickets, according to documents released under the Official Information Act.
The papers show ministers have been warned that the tourn-ament losses, already forecast at $30 million, could increase further.
Ministers have been told the global economic crisis, which may lower numbers of overseas fans coming for the cup, presents a "major risk".
While non-seat tickets for some early pool matches between low-ranked teams may cost as little as $5 or $10 in venues such as Whangarei, New Plymouth and Invercargill, organisers are relying on wealthy overseas visitors to buy most of the Auckland final and semifinals tickets.
They hope locals will philosophically accept that they may not be able to afford the big knock-out games, and will instead make up the numbers at the less important pool matches in hard-to-fill stadiums.
"We've got to rely on New Zealanders getting caught up in the event and really enjoying the fact that it's a whole festival. It's 20 teams, not just one team," Martin Snedden, the Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive, said.
"If the overriding view is that it's all about the All Blacks winning the World Cup, then we'll have trouble."
Ticket prices for the five games in the south of the South Island have yet to be set.
But at a World Cup launch in Auckland earlier this month, Snedden said the organisers had to take account of the changes in the world economy during the past six months.
Ticket pricing for at least 30 of the games would not be excessive, Snedden said.
The prices were likely to be released next year.
Dunedin has three pool games, one each involving Scotland and England and an Ireland-Italy game, and Invercargill has two.
Snedden had earlier said prices for most games would be similar to those of Super 14 matches.
Super 14 tickets range from $20-$60.
Notes from a February 2 meeting said Rugby World Cup minister Murray McCully and associate minister Gerry Brownlee were "nervous about the risk around ticket revenue and tournament loss".
At the meeting, Snedden asked them to think about wearing a bigger loss if it would promote a better-quality tournament.
Taxpayers will be liable for two-thirds of any shortfall under an agreement between the Government and the NZRU, which will cover the remaining third.
McCully said he was comfortable with a balance being struck between reining in ticket prices and limiting the tournament's losses.
"I'm keen to see tickets as accessible as possible to New Zealanders, but we also have to run a tournament that doesn't leave the taxpayers seriously out of pocket."
Between 60% and 80% of tickets are projected to be bought by New Zealand fans.
Semifinals are likely to average about $600.
A range of four or five price options will be offered for most games.
- Additional reporting by Steve Hepburn