Hawke's Bay Today
Eden Park set for super weekend with three big fixtures in 24hrs
Eden Park is gearing up for one of its busiest weekends yet. Set to host three first-class sports events this Friday and Saturday, the stadium will showcase just what it can achieve within a 24-hour turnaround. The Super Smash Twenty20 elimination final between the Auckland Aces and the Central Stags starts off the massive weekend of Aucklandhosted sport, with the Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory A-League clash shortly after. The Blues then open their Super Rugby season with a highlyanticipated clash against the Crusaders on Saturday night. Eden Park CEO Nick Sautner said although the coming weekend posed its challenges logistically, it was an exciting opportunity for New Zealand’s national stadium. “A lot of people probably don’t understand the complexity of running a stadium and I often say to people it’s like running a small city,” Sautner told Radio Sport. “We’ve got the challenges of access, security, food and beverage, and just ensuring that people have a memorable experience when they come to the park. “[But] I don’t think there could be a stadium in the world that could boast to host a first-class cricket, soccer and rugby event within 24 hours . . . It’s actually great to see Eden Park being used for broader things than just the cricket and rugby.” Blues ticket sale numbers became increasingly grim last season as the Auckland franchise fell down the Super Rugby ladder and now under the guidance of a new head coach, Leon MacDonald, the side has plenty to prove to their home stadium fans on Saturday night. But Sautner said that thanks to promising pre-season form, Eden Park expected a decent turn out this weekend and had hope for the Blues’ Super Rugby season ahead. “I think last year was a bit disappointing in terms of attendances but the changes that have occurred both on and off field have been encouraging to observe,” he said. “Obviously from an Eden Park perspective, the Blues are our home franchise and we want to ensure that spectators, when they do attend, have a great experience and part of that experience is seeing their team win on the field. “We’re very hopeful that the crowd will exceed 20,000 [people] . . . and the Blues come away with a victory,” he said.