February Tournament Expected To Draw Huge Investment, Crowds
The multi-million dollar Auckland League Nines tournament is set to be staged at Eden Park in February next year, according to Michael Burgess of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. The NZ$3M ($2.6M) event will be the richest in terms of prize money. It also "looks likely to be one of the biggest single sporting events on this side of the Tasman in 2014" -- needing only to achieve the buy-in of National Rugby League players and "in particular star players, who will pull in the crowds, to outrank the Wellington Sevens (70,000) and sit behind the V8 Supercars at Pukekohe (117,000 over three days.)" The Australian Rugby League Commission and the NRL are "fully behind the event, seeing both commercial and footballing benefits." All 16 NRL clubs "have backed the proposal." ATEED (Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development), the Auckland council's standalone agency, has rubber-stamped the idea, committing to a "multi-million" dollar level of funding. The event will be held across a weekend at Eden Park, with group games to be played on the Saturday and finals on the Sunday. Dates "are still to be confirmed" but Feb. 15-16 are a likely option (NZ HERALD, 5/5).