30 Jan 2015

Nines tipped to exceed 2014 figures

4:38 pm on 30 January 2015

Organisers of the NRL Auckland Nines rugby league tournament are expecting it to generate more money than last year, the first time it was held.

Fans at the NRL Auckland Nines fanzone in Aotea Square.

Fans at the NRL Auckland Nines fanzone in Aotea Square. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

More than 10,000 people flocked to the Nines fanzone in Aotea Square today to meet players from all 16 teams before the tournament begins at Eden Park tomorrow.

$9 million of public money is going into the event over the five year contract with the NRL and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development says last year it returned 9.35 million dollars to the city, partly from 68-thousand visitor nights

The ATEED chief executive, Brett O'Riley, says this year they're already on track to surpass those figures.

"Without even seeing the final numbers for Eden Park we've already exceeded those numbers and just visibly seeing so many people around the streets suggest to us we'll exceed our visitation numbers and will exceed our GDP numbers," he told Radio New Zealand.

"That's really exciting for us, that means cash in the pockets of Auckland businesses and that's why we do these things."

O'Riley says their vision for this year was to create more of a festival atmosphere, through the fanzone which features big screens to show the weekend's games.

Longtime rugby league fan Kevin Booth is over from Britain says it's a great advertisement for the city.

"My Father wanted to come to Nines because we watched it last year on television and it looked so good so we decided to come this year," he said.

"They've set it up so well, I can't fault it they should keep it here forever."

However Brisbane and Melbourne are considering bidding to host the Nines when Auckland's contract with the NRL expires in 2018.

Glen Jackson of the NRL says there's been no official discussion with any other cities, and that Auckland and New Zealand are important markets.

"It's difficult to say what's going to happen in four years time, but it's about making sure that the event at the moment in Auckland is as strong as it can be," Jackson said.

"There's no doubt that Auckland itself has played a really big part, a significant part in the success of the Nines, I think that is clear to see."