Eden Park’s sold-out sale for the Super Rugby final is a boon for local businesses

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Cheree Kinnear gives the highs and lows of the weekend sport in 90 seconds. Video / Sky Sport / Photosport / Spark Sport

A sold-out Eden Park for this weekend’s Super Rugby final will be a ‘lifeline’ for local businesses after a quiet 10 months at the stadium.

The Blues’ home final against the Crusaders on Saturday night is the first match to fill all seats on the famous ground since the opening Test of the Bledisloe Cup last August.

Since then, after months of navigating Covid-19 restrictions, Eden Park Trust chief executive Nick Sautner is delighted to put the sold-out sign back up.

“We could only dream of a time when we would welcome the crowds again.”

Hotel businesses, especially those in the restaurant-rich areas of Kingsland and Dominion Rd, eagerly await the flood of rugby fans before and after the game.

Kingslander bar owner Steve Gillett said he expected the business to be full of hungry and thirsty customers.

“We’ll be doing almost three times what we normally do on a Saturday night because of this event, it’s like we’re making up two extra days,” he said.

Gillet said the finale was ‘like Halley’s comet that comes once every 70 years, it’s a lifeline for small businesses’ after they were hit the hardest in the past two years .

Gillett and his team expect to ‘have quite lively Blues fans, there’s always a bit of a joke’ with the Auckland-Canterbury rivalry.

“The Crusaders are obviously the epitome of opposition, they’ve always been our arch-enemy. For the home side to win against them would definitely be the best final.”

Eden Park General Manager Nick Sautner.  Photo / Dean Purcell
Eden Park General Manager Nick Sautner. Photo / Dean Purcell

Lifetime Blues fan Theo Schoone says there’s nothing like having 45,000 other Blues fans with you.

“It’s a lot of cheering, the crowd is crazy.”

Schoone said a large crowd also enhances the spectacle of the game.

“[A] big sale in a huge stadium like Eden Park, it’s like god, I better put on my best performance.”

Sautner said a large crowd represents what supporters have been deprived of for almost two years, “a sold-out sale signals an opportunity for over 45,000 fans to unite under one roof.”

The imagery and atmosphere of the final helped revitalize Auckland’s economy, Sautner added.

“There is genuine excitement in the air among the staff at Eden Park as we prepare to witness the writing of history.”

Sautner said the atmosphere will be “electric” regardless of the outcome.

Before the game, Schoone had a message for the Crusaders: “I hope the pre-game jitters hit them hard, I’m just being honest.”

Fans attending the game are asked to arrive early and use the free public transport services, with gates opening at 5pm.

Eden Park will also be illuminated in blue all week and other Auckland landmarks, such as the Sky Tower, Auckland Harbor Bridge and the Auckland War Memorial Museum are expected to follow suit.

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