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Heavies not needed for city’s big weekend

Dec 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

BAR manager Eugene Wehrly wasn’t planning on hiring any heavies for his Cuba St pub this weekend – despite the fact 70,000 footie fans are in town.

“They’re always in good spirits,” he says of the thousands who come to the Capital for the annual IRB rugby sevens tournament.

Sevens 2

TOP GUNS: Outside J J Murphy's in Cuba St - from left: Gary Skedgwell, Michelle Clifford, Paula Allen, Daniel Roberts, Brett Phillips and Mary-Ellen Earl.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” says Eugene, who manages James J Murphy and Co.

The Sevens – the third biggest night after St Patrick’s Day and the Cuba Street Carnival – is not like some other big events, he says.

In the case of the AC/DC concerts, for example, he laid on extra security “because we didn’t quite know what the crowd would be like”.

Plans for the Sevens weekend have been city-wide, says Wellington City Councillor John Morrison.

“The idea is to turn the whole city into a party. That’s the broader philosophy we try to bring to these events.”

Courtenay Place was to be blocked off from Cambridge Tce to Taranaki from 6pm on Saturday evening to 6am Sunday morning. Parts of adjoining Blair and Allen Sts also had traffic restrictions.

Courtenay Place and Queens Wharf had big screens showing the games, creating a “Sevens village type concept”, with marquees and music.

Mr Morrison says the rewards of hosting events like the Sevens make town being “a bit of a mess” afterwards worth it.

“You can go without this kind of thing, but then you wouldn’t have much of a city.”

The impact on traffic was expected to be the biggest problem, but Wellington City Council events manager John Dawson says blocking off the streets adds another dimension to the Sevens.

“It provides an opportunity for people who didn’t get into the stadium to participate,” he says.

“With that number of people, we would have had to close the area anyway.  So it’s a health and safety issue as well as event promotion.”

Council spokesperson Richard MacLean says the cost of closing the roads, which comes out of the council’s $1.8 million events development fund, is “not hugely expensive”.

Traffic management costs for Saturday night were budgeted at $8000.

Marketing for the Sevens event is funded by the downtown levy, a rate collected from central business district retailers and businesses specifically for tourism promotion.

Mr Morrison says businesses encourage the council to do whatever it can to bring in big events: “Everyone buys into it.”

He would not say how much the Sevens marketing budget is, but says increased revenue coming into the city over the weekend exceeds it.

Of the expected 70,000 people attending the event, 40% will be from out of town.

The council predicts that $15 to $16 million dollars will be punched into Capital’s economy this weekend.

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is is a former Whitireia Journalism student.
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