It’s the biggest sporting event to come to Nelson, and organisers say we’re ready for it.
Nelson will host its first ever All Blacks Test match at Trafalgar Park next year, against Argentina, beating out Christchurch and Hamilton for the spot.
The September 8 match will be part of the 2018 Investec Rugby Championship and is thanks to a collaborative bid by Nelson City Council, the Nelson Regional Development Agency and the Tasman Rugby Union, with considerable local private sector investment.
It has already been a bumper few years for Nelson sports fans, who have seen the Black Sticks, the Silver Ferns, the Wellington Phoenix, Black Caps and New Zealand Warriors playing in Nelson.
Adding an All Blacks test match to the mix will only further prove the region’s ability to host world class events, says chief executive of the Nelson Regional Development Agency, Mark Rawson.
“There’s not much bigger scale you can get than this,” he says of the match, which will seat 21,000 people.
“It proves that we can do it as an event destination, and should set us in good stead to attract other big events in the future, and not just sporting events.
“We’ve got all the basic assets required. We’ve got a good stadium, a good accommodation sector, but just thinking we can do it, and also getting a good team on board, helped to make this happen.”
He adds that the economic impact for the region will be “significant” with September not usually being a high visitation time.
Deputy Mayor Paul Matheson reckons that the test match will be the “biggest event to hit Nelson in some years”.
He says the council have contributed $300,000 towards the event and will be expecting a return of more than $9 million.
“It’s going to be huge – the town will be totally a buzz.
“We’ve had Rugby World Cup games here, which were successful, but Nelson has moved ahead dramatically in the last few years – look what’s happened to cricket – we are on the international stage now, and rugby is next.”