26 Apr 2010

Call for rugby 'party central' to be alcohol-free zone

9:49 am on 26 April 2010

The site of the party area in Auckland for the 2011 Rugby World Cup has been officially opened to the public but there are worries the site will be used more as a watering hole than a rugby fan zone.

Queens Wharf was officially opened to the public on Sunday and will be the site of a temporary building for fans during the tournament.

The red gates that had shut out the public from Queens Wharf for almost 100 years were opened on Sunday.

The Hospitality Association wants the venue to be an alcohol-free zone. Chief executive Bruce Robertson says putting a lot of people into one place makes it harder to control them.

Mr Robertson believes the party central site is a good idea, but only if it is run as a family-friendly, non-alcohol event.

However, Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully says it is unrealistic to expect the site to be alcohol-free, and high standards will be set in terms of food and alcohol consumption.

"We don't want to see the Viaduct Basin area where there are cafes and restaurants and bars put under pressure as a result ... so we're working with the managers, police and others to make sure that we steer the traffic away from here at a particular hour in the evening to ensure that we have no law and order risks."

People will be encouraged to enjoy the many bars and restaurants in the area, he says.

Rugby World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden says there will be a careful alcohol management plan that will include non-alcohol family zones.