Rotorua 'International' Stadium



  • Back from a good weekend in Rotorua. Can't say enough about the hospitality at plenty of venues, and really like the set up they have at Eat Street and surrounding venues. But the stadium/game day experience put a massive dampener (excuse the pun) on the weekend.

    How NZ Rugby could schedule such a significant fixture at such a below-par venue is beyond me. The fourth biggest game of the tour was plonked at about the 28th best ground in NZ. I'm probably being generous too. One pokey stand, two thirds of the ground is embankments. Far from an international standard ground. At least our own embarrassing temporary scaffold stadium is all seated.

    Our personal experience was that after arriving more than an hour before kick off, we made a beeline for the concrete terraces opposite the stand, which were far from what we would consider full based on past terraces experiences. Walking down a stairway we spotted some space and tucked ourselves into it. Pretty standard procedure back in the day at Lancaster Park and Carisbrook. What ensued was a torrent of abuse from locals who insisted we were either standing in space reserved for friends, or space they were going to sit down in. Yes, SIT DOWN IN. A cold, hard, wet concrete terraced embankment. We tried two different areas, argued our case, but ultimately we were outnumbered by disgruntled locals and couldn't be bothered with the drama so bailed and found plenty of space just behind the terraces near the bottom of the grass embankment. Which in the conditions was half mud and very slippery. Best avoided in the conditions. Meanwhile, the remaining paved areas (stairs and pathways) began to fill up with people which a smattering of thoroughly unenthused security staff quickly flagged trying to move on. By kick off, visibility was seriously obscured by people standing where they shouldn't, and the risk of slipping down a muddy slope increased by the minute.

    We could see a block of toilets but had no idea where to get a beer, plus the paths were mostly blocked by spectators avoiding the mud and slippage risk. So the game was a dry argument. If not for the rain, in our exposed position.

    By no means were we the only disgruntled punters. We talked to Lions supporters who couldn't believe they were dealing with the same crap, including getting shit from locals on the terraces. I'm sure sitting on those terraces on a cushion for a Steamers game with 5,000 people in the ground works well, but it's not at all appropriate when the venue is packed. Something should have been done to pre empt this situation, at the very least.

    Ultimately though, this game should have been held at a marquee venue and my suggestion would be Forsyth Barr as this would have sold out, at higher prices, and would have certainly dragged more Lions supporters to the SI in lieu of a test.

    This was a really shithouse scheduling decision from NZ Rugby.



  • Please pardon my possible ignorance, but wasn't Rotorua partly picked due to the cultural importance? Not suggesting that should outweigh common sense, just asking really.



  • @Catogrande said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    Please pardon my possible ignorance, but wasn't Rotorua partly picked due to the cultural importance? Not suggesting that should outweigh common sense, just asking really.

    You're quite correct. And you're also correct that common sense was outweighed by that factor in the decision.



  • It's shit. It's shit to get to (I'm lucky to have a mate who lives around the corner) the facilites are crap, and it's bad enough in the dry, let alone the wet.

    In the 90s the surface was one of the best around apparently, doubt that's true today.

    Certainly was an odd choice. What was the crowd size?



  • Even if the stadium was of a higher standard, theres a really solid argument that the game could have been held in Dunedin or Christchurch. Revenue may have been greater and ultimately it's a national representative side who's major fixtures can and should be shared around the country. Lions fans would have been compelled to travel to the South Island to spend their coin, and as the third biggest and best venue in the country, FBS certainly makes more sense than Rotorua's shitty ground when hosting a major international match. The rotorua experience was an embarrassment to rugby in NZ.



  • @Catogrande said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    Please pardon my possible ignorance, but wasn't Rotorua partly picked due to the cultural importance? Not suggesting that should outweigh common sense, just asking really.

    Also probably partly picked for fan tour schedules. Look at the packages and a lot of them were starting a week or so before Test 1 so games needed to be in the vicinity eg Hamilton, Rotorua.
    Unfortunately Tauranga, despite it's riches still can't get its shit together and build anything decent 😉



  • The banks looked worse than Woodstock at the end of the game. Rubbish farrrrkin EVERYWHERE. Glad I wasn't on clean up duty.



  • Based on some of the pics I've seen, would have sucked to be behind the goal posts also. Behind the in goal there was fencing as usual, then a massive warm up area, again fenced off. Fans were miles away from the action.



  • It's a good stadium for a day game when the weather is sunny as you can maximise the caldera effect of the venue when sitting/standing on the embankment. When it's wet you stand on the embankment at your own risk. We stood at the top near the paths.

    The surface is still very good. The in goal area was smaller than in the past. Food/drink facilities are poor.

    The crowd was 28K and they reckon the majority were from out of town.



  • I had an absolute shit experience here for the 2005 tour game v BOP. I will regale you with the details later ........



  • I had a great experience there for the 2011 RWC. It helped that while waiting for a cousin to pick me up, I bumped into some South Africans who had stashed a crate before the game.



  • I went with WTW and after the game we played Mexi back at the hire mini van for two hours waiting for traffic to move. Apparently the volunteers threw their hands up and just walked away the caos was that bad.

    Also they said everyone should bus to the game so a lot did but after the game there was no cones/barriers for people to form long queues so people just mad rushed to the doors of bus.

    Really poorly executed the whole day.

    I thought it was really easy to get beer and food though.



  • @Hooroo said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    I went with WTW and after the game we played Mexi back at the hire mini van for two hours waiting for traffic to move. Apparently the volunteers threw their hands up and just walked away the caos was that bad.

    Also they said everyone should bus to the game so a lot did but after the game there was no cones/barriers for people to form long queues so people just mad rushed to the doors of bus.

    Really poorly executed the whole day.

    I thought it was really easy to get beer and food though.

    Yep the bus queues were a shambles. Even when we left 20 mins early there were heaps of people getting on them with a lack of cones and just one hi-vis Nazi yelling at people who had no idea where they were supposed to be so they just jumped on the nearest bus.



  • @Rapido said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    I had an absolute shit experience here for the 2005 tour game v BOP. I will regale you with the details later ........

    Go on....



  • We got out of the car park really quickly with minimal hassle.

    There was a bigger queue at the BP on SH5.



  • First of all.

    I'll concede that some things are beyond the locals control.

    28,000 crowd in a town that is pretty much about 70,000 population. That is quite amazing. And it is going to cause some chaos due to infrastructure not set up to cope with one off exceptional events.

    Secondly. A modest stadium with a big grass amphitheater is the perfect cost effective way to provide for very occasional extraordinary crowds, with the only upkeep in the fallow years in between is a mower. This is how most of the provincial unions operated; Okara Oaek, Rugby Park New Plymouth etc etc.



  • My experience in 2005, which I would have moaned about on here 12 years ago:

    Travelled from Tauranga to Rotorua with 2 adults and 2 kids. Gave ourselves plenty of time thinking we'd judged it to allow getting some takeaways in Rotorua and get there an hour early (gave ourselves 3 hours for a 1 hour journey in normal times).

    The traffic jam started almost at Hamurana. We got in the stadium literally as they were kicking off. What on earth do you do with 2 waist high kids in a stadium with 25,000 people standing? And your late?

    We found a spot near the corner flag with an obstructed view (obstructed by the grandstand), and could see half the field. Looked at big screen for the other half. This area had hundreds of people deciding that a view of half the field was the best spot available.

    No complaints about locals. Just a complaint about how kid un-friendly it was. It wasn't rainy that day, but either because night time and dew, or because it's so full - no one on grass was sitting.

    Didn't get home until midnight or after.

    I went to the Lions tour match in 83 at same stadium. Back then they let in 35000 and the local population was only about 50,000 then. I think my much more organised than me parent got us there in time for curtain raiser and I sat on the concrete terrace part. Day game, soup in a flask etc, John Carleton got 2 tries.



  • So in summary. Napier or New Plymouth which upgraded their grounds for 2011 should have hosted this tour match.



  • @Rapido said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    So in summary. Napier or New Plymouth which upgraded their grounds for 2011 should have hosted this tour match.

    Yarrow Stadium should have been the option if you base it on stadium quality.



  • @antipodean Samoa v Namibia at Rotorua was pretty good in '11. Not a huge crowd, nice day, kids could get a seat and watch the game. I imagine this was a very different animal.



  • woop finally remembered my password.. so i can join the rant!

    totally agree with what Shark said.. this was a fucking disgrace.

    biggest disappointment to for me was that the Maoris game in '05 was one of the most epic days of sport i've been to - the game was amazing and town after was epic! Always said if this game was 1/10th of that game would still be a good outing. unfortunately wasn't even 1/100th. As noted this game partly there for 'culture' reasons.. prob the no1 reason it needs to not be there so the team isn't distracted by all the other sh*t and just focuses on the 80 mins on the field - which they totally failed to turn up for.

    Rolling into town I expected to see the place heaving with camper vans and people spilling out of every available joint. it wasn't even that busy. We stopped for a quick couple of beers and some banter with some young poms on their OE on the waterfront before heading to the pub. Pub wasn't that busy then headed to the game.

    Heard stories that the queue to get a bus from town was 1km long. only 10 buses were rolling. guess thats why pub wasn't busy every fuker queuing for a ride. Heard Lions fans were paying up to $100 to any local driving past to give them a ride to the ground.

    Not helped by the weather but fcuk me what a joke. I couldn't believe that people were sitting on the terraces. prob cause they went an hour before to try and get on that side for a 'seat' and ended up freezing their ar$es off on a wet bit of concrete that just meant there was ZERO atmosphere from any fans. a couple of portaloos somewhere was all the pissers i saw miles away from where i was. luckily had chucked a few beers and a hippie in my jacket so didn't nened to queue for hours to get a beer like others. Was basically just a matter of hoping the game would end so we could piss off elsewhere.

    Getting back already discussed. As Hooroo said we just stood around the van playing drinking games and the traffic was just going nowhere... we then ran out of beers (I should point out that you should never really on Hooroos "local knowledge" to find you some more..)..

    even the fast food joints there were fcuked - we waited 45 mins for a bunch of retards in Wendys to put some burgers together. Picked up some lions supporters who were walking to their accom about 10k's away cause they couldn't get any transport - they'd already walked for an hour when we picked them up at Wendys.

    Got back to the Tron at 2am! plan was to hit the town there for some beers but since it was about 3hrs after schedule everyone was well and truely asleep!

    if it wasn't for the company and fun we had in our van the whole thing would have been a disaster!



  • other thing i forgot to say is that i feel as tho this tour has been a bit of a dud.. Dunedin sounded ok - but I was kinda expecting something along the lines of 2011 type atmos but there's just been nothing. I work in the viaduct and have seen feck all supporters floating around.. Will be interested to see what the tron is like this arvo and what the test is like on the weekend.



  • @WillieTheWaiter said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    other thing i forgot to say is that i feel as tho this tour has been a bit of a dud.

    I think the weak pound has a lot to do wtih that. Brisbane in 01 was epic - there must have been 30,000 fans in town, and they just took over.

    Haven't seen that many yet, but Rotorua was bloody busy. Not sure when and where you are, but it was standing room only in a lot of places when we were about mid afternoon.



  • @nzzp said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    I think the weak pound has a lot to do wtih that. Brisbane in 01 was epic - there must have been 30,000 fans in town, and they just took over

    Yes, that was a great atmosphere. Now Poms can't even get two South Pacific pesos.



  • @antipodean said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    @nzzp said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    I think the weak pound has a lot to do wtih that. Brisbane in 01 was epic - there must have been 30,000 fans in town, and they just took over

    Yes, that was a great atmosphere. Now Poms can't even get two South Pacific pesos.

    I was singing 'a dollar eighty to the pound' when the Blues were crushing the lions. Good times...



  • @WillieTheWaiter

    Well put WTW. Reading your comments on the buses, I'm super stoked our kindly motelier was happy to drop us to the game.

    Gotta day though, there was plenty of atmosphere around town on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Eat Street and the Lone Star were packed Friday night, and on Saturday we went back to the Loney for an arvo session, stopped for one at the Pig n Whistle and then had a bite at Cobb and Co (boozy traffic lights!) and everywhere was busy.

    Because we left the ground 20 mins early we had minimal hassle getting a bus into town and were back at the Lone Star around 9.15. Given it took until around 11 for the joint to fill up, I'd suggest getting from the ground back into town after the final whistle was an absolute shit fight.



  • @Rapido Similar experience for me in 2005, kids of around that height but we did get there a lot earlier. There was also Hori BOP with a girl dressed as a lion tamer's assistant, she was pretty pissed off and buggered off early - but that's another story. I didn't go to the game on Saturday for the reasons set out here by those who did. The ground is OK at about 10K max, any wet weather will reduce the place to mud and it is not set up to transport people to and from the stadium.

    A couple of days before was the only time I got to meet Tony Veitch when he was doing the Radio Sport breakfast and there was some morning event. The hotel and the date coincides with a complaint of violence that his girlfriend made about him which he still doesn't acknowledge while he tries to promote the myth that he lost control just the one time. Shitbag.



  • @shark said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    @WillieTheWaiter

    Well put WTW. Reading your comments on the buses, I'm super stoked our kindly motelier was happy to drop us to the game.

    Gotta day though, there was plenty of atmosphere around town on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Eat Street and the Lone Star were packed Friday night, and on Saturday we went back to the Loney for an arvo session, stopped for one at the Pig n Whistle and then had a bite at Cobb and Co (boozy traffic lights!) and everywhere was busy.

    Because we left the ground 20 mins early we had minimal hassle getting a bus into town and were back at the Lone Star around 9.15. Given it took until around 11 for the joint to fill up, I'd suggest getting from the ground back into town after the final whistle was an absolute shit fight.

    Boozy traffic lights are a thing now? Excellent



  • Based on crowd numbers, tv coverage, you would have thought common sense would have prevailed for organisers and outweighed "cultural significance"?
    My preference would have been to hold it at Eden Park - not far from Rotorua and venue a truly international one.



  • @Crash 4 games at Eden Park in one tour might be a little much. This isn't England.

    I assume they really wanted a non-Super base, in which case the naki would have been the go.

    Tauranga not having a stadium really is ridiculously short sighted.



  • @mariner4life

    I didn't think Blue Chip or whatever it's called these days was too bad, on a visit there for a Canterbury VS BOP game. For some reason I picture it now as fully encircled by stands and all-seated but possibly the stands are shallow and well back from the pitch ?? Now I have to google it up....



  • @shark Don't bother looking up the Speedway stadium, the Bay don't even play there any more. It was all seater and under cover but you're a long way from the field. Some happy memories of watching a decent team there ....



  • My 2c ...

    It had to be played out of Auckland but close to there and near the majority of population.

    It had to be a place with a lot of accommodation.

    It had to be a reasonably large stadium.

    Rotorua ticks all three despite the limitations of the facility.

    Dunedin ticks one (stadium)

    New Plymouth one and a half (a little further from Akl)

    Napier maybe three halves.

    Hamilton may have been an option ... but the Chiefs game ...

    Wellington may have been a better bet but they have two games next week.

    Tauranga - nuh
    Palmy - nuh
    North Harbour - well that's Auckland

    I can see the logic in Rotovegas. But as has been pointed out the stadium is not three best option.



  • Rotorua has Is ground where the events management team always underestimate the set-up needed. In past years, even with a crowd of just 4,000or 5,000 expected, they still manage to have too few ticket booths operating. It's like they have a formula of: Expected Crowd + 70% of Required Resources = What What We'll Do Then Act Surprised.

    Paradoxically, it's a great place to watch rugby when there's a small crowd. Not so much atmosphere wise though.



  • Well I guess they've only had about 12 years to prepare.



  • @booboo said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    My 2c ...

    It had to be played out of Auckland but close to there and near the majority of population.

    It had to be a place with a lot of accommodation.

    It had to be a reasonably large stadium.

    Rotorua ticks all three despite the limitations of the facility.

    Dunedin ticks one (stadium)

    New Plymouth one and a half (a little further from Akl)

    Napier maybe three halves.

    Hamilton may have been an option ... but the Chiefs game ...

    Wellington may have been a better bet but they have two games next week.

    Tauranga - nuh
    Palmy - nuh
    North Harbour - well that's Auckland

    I can see the logic in Rotovegas. But as has been pointed out the stadium is not three best option.

    Why did it have to be played close to Auckland? It could easily have been played in Christchurch or Dunedin on the back of the Crusaders and Highlanders games.



  • @shark said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    @booboo said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    My 2c ...

    It had to be played out of Auckland but close to there and near the majority of population.

    It had to be a place with a lot of accommodation.

    It had to be a reasonably large stadium.

    Rotorua ticks all three despite the limitations of the facility.

    Dunedin ticks one (stadium)

    New Plymouth one and a half (a little further from Akl)

    Napier maybe three halves.

    Hamilton may have been an option ... but the Chiefs game ...

    Wellington may have been a better bet but they have two games next week.

    Tauranga - nuh
    Palmy - nuh
    North Harbour - well that's Auckland

    I can see the logic in Rotovegas. But as has been pointed out the stadium is not three best option.

    Why did it have to be played close to Auckland? It could easily have been played in Christchurch or Dunedin on the back of the Crusaders and Highlanders games.

    Also would have encouraged a few more lions supporters down this way.

    Whilst there was a good amount in Christchurch for the crusaders game, it was nothing like 12 years ago.



  • @shark said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    @booboo said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    My 2c ...

    It had to be played out of Auckland but close to there and near the majority of population.

    It had to be a place with a lot of accommodation.

    It had to be a reasonably large stadium.

    Rotorua ticks all three despite the limitations of the facility.

    Dunedin ticks one (stadium)

    New Plymouth one and a half (a little further from Akl)

    Napier maybe three halves.

    Hamilton may have been an option ... but the Chiefs game ...

    Wellington may have been a better bet but they have two games next week.

    Tauranga - nuh
    Palmy - nuh
    North Harbour - well that's Auckland

    I can see the logic in Rotovegas. But as has been pointed out the stadium is not three best option.

    Why did it have to be played close to Auckland? It could easily have been played in Christchurch or Dunedin on the back of the Crusaders and Highlanders games.

    The reason for playing it close to Auckland because it's a week out from the first test in Auckland and they probably wanted somewhere where people could travel to/from without an extra flight.



  • I don't think an extra flight was required given they could have flown (e.g.) Dunedin to Hamilton Sunday rather than Dunedin to Rotorua on a Wednesday.

    However if as seems the only logical proposition you don't want to go to the SI twice then playing 3 games in two cities in 8 days probably wasn't the best option.

    With hindsight the Prov Baba's could/should have been at N Plymouth and The Maori at Okara Park (or whatever its called nowadays)



  • @dogmeat said in Rotorua 'International' Stadium:

    I don't think an extra flight was required given they could have flown (e.g.) Dunedin to Hamilton Sunday rather than Dunedin to Rotorua on a Wednesday.

    However if as seems the only logical proposition you don't want to go to the SI twice then playing 3 games in two cities in 8 days probably wasn't the best option.

    With hindsight the Prov Baba's could/should have been at N Plymouth and The Maori at Okara Park (or whatever its called nowadays)

    Okara Park and Rotorua Stadium are almost identical though.


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