Companies blast corporate box prices for Highlanders

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A rugby-mad lawyer blasts corporate hospitality charges at next week’s Queenstown Super 14 game – but the event manager is unfazed. 

Charging $2900 plus GST for a 20-person marquee at the Events Centre’s Highlanders-Western Force game – plus beverages – is “over the top, even before you start looking at the booze”, local AWS Legal partner Alan Harper says. 

“I think it’s probably at least $1000 too dear.” 

Other events like the Cromwell Races, where you bring your own booze and entertain guests much longer, are “much more cost-effective”. A former Highlanders director, Harper says he and local partner Phil Wilson – secretary of the Wakatipu Rugby Club – are keen to support the game, but will just go as regular punters. 

“I would have thought they would have been better to price it competitively and have people clambering to take sites,” Harper says. 

Locations Realty director Stacy Coburn agrees: “To get more events to Queenstown, particularly on the rugby stage, we’re going to have to tailor our packages a bit more to get local support. 

“That pricing is certainly not going to help. Having come out of a slump in the economy, I think people are still fairly tight on their spending arrangements,” he says. 

Events Centre event manager Karen Gemmell defends the price, noting it’s unaltered from 2008 when Queenstown last hosted a Super 14 game. 

“The hospitality marquees don’t make me any money. 

“That’s the cost of putting all the infrastructure in there, worthy of Super 14 games.” 

Eight companies have bought tents. Two are local. 

Those in corporate marquees will get discounted drink prices but Gemmell won’t reveal how much. 

Public area prices are Speight’s $5, Steinlager Pure $6, Steinlager Light $4 with white and red wine at $7. 

Super 14’s first year in Queenstown, 2007, attracted 300 corporate guests. 

“It was a boom year and it was also the novelty factor”, Gemmell says. 

The second in 2008 attracted 200 – “and we’re just about reaching that again”. 

This time the Events Centre has a cheaper product – an $80 plus GST Lineout package for a seat in a temporary stand between the 22s, BBQ and post-match chat with Southland’s coaches. 

After the resort’s first two Super 14 games attracted crowds of 10,000 then 7000, Gemmell’s confident between 6000 and 8000 people will rock up on April 10. 

“I’m happy,” she says.

 Getting to the game

The Events Centre’s selling five ticketing options for the Super 14 game on April 10, excluding the main grandstand which is already booked out. 

Embankment: $30 adults, $10 kids, $65 for family pass (two adults, two kids) – families buying tickets to the family zone can join a post-match Alpine Aqualand pool party 

Crown Range Stand: $37 adults, $10 kids, in temporary uncovered stand
Lineout: $80 plus GST for seat in Crown Range Stand plus BBQ, post-match analysis from Southland coaches Paul Henderson and Simon Culhane, Ranfurly Shield on display. Cash bar operates 

Junior patron pack: $275 per child or $500 for two, includes tickets for child and their sponsor, kids’ tickets to all Highlanders games in Dunedin, BBQ, carpark pass, payment of child’s Arrowtown, Wakatipu or Upper Clutha Rugby Club season sub, catered hospitality in Highlanders Lounge 

Private marquee: $2900 plus GST for 20 guests, includes match pass, replay screen 1-5pm, pre-match savouries and a sumptuous, hot carvery lunch, security, access to other hospitality village facilities. Discounted drinks 

Curtain-raiser: Anyone wanting to watch the Wakatipu Premiers v Upper Clutha match at noon has to buy a Super 14 ticket

Swim with Jimmy Cowan

Fancy dunking All Blacks Adam Thomson or Jimmy Cowan? 

The Highlanders are inviting kids to their post-training pool session at Alpine Aqualand between 5 and 5.45pm next Thursday. 

Youngsters can use the pool’s dunking machine to dive onto a Highlander of their choice. 

Kids can also meet the Highlanders on dry ground the day before their game against the Western Force. 

They’re congregating at Queenstown’s Earnslaw Park from 1-2pm next Friday to sign autographs and chuck balls around. BNZ, which sponsors the Junior Highlanders Club, is laying on a free BBQ.