Money brings Super 14 back


Businesses, DQ secure Highlanders game


Queenstown Inc has put up $70,000 to ensure the return of Super 14 rugby next season after the resort was punted this year.

Queenstown hosted Highlanders games in 2007 and 2008 but this season the New Zealand Rugby Union dropped the tourism jewel in favour of grey Palmerston North.

Lakes Leisure events manager Karen Gemmell says the High­landers will share the cost of hosting the Western Force at the Events Centre on April 10 – but support from local sponsors is also critical.

She cites hospitality operator Good Group, tourism/transport conglomerate Trojan Holdings and Destination Queenstown for coming to the party.

Gemmell won’t talk figures but Mountain Scene understands Queenstown interests had to stump up $70,000.

Good Group boss Russell Gray says his company’s contribution, in return for pourage rights, is “tens of thousands”.

“We were pretty disappointed as a group that Super 14 was lost to the area after a lot of us worked pretty hard to get it here in the first place.

“Any opportunity to stage what effectively is an international event, to continue to prove to other events how well we can do it in Queenstown, is a good thing to do,” says Gray,a former Otago Rugby Football Union boss.

Gemmell is hoping for a 7000-10,000 crowd and, along with Gray, is calling for fans to support the game.

“There needs to be a call to arms [to] everybody in Central Otago and Southland and Otago to say, let’s get along and support it,” Gray says.

DQ’s contribution is $5000, marketing manager Graham Budd confirms, adding the event on the weekend after Easter is “perfect for our shoulder season”.

Meanwhile, the Events Centre is one of four NZ pool venues for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in January.

Six games will be played between January 15-20, likely featuring Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and another team still to qualify.

“We’ve been in discussions with the Events Centre about hiring the venue and asking them to organise the match management on our behalf,” says NZ Cricket’s Tim Murdoch.

The tournament should be some compensation for Queenstown missing out on a one-day international this season, although Murdoch doesn’t expect big crowds. Entry will be free.