Stringent security for NRL Nines but expect bad eggs, organiser says

Above and below: fans head for Eden Park Saturday morning
Duco Events director David Higgins

Expect ejections and arrests from Eden Park during the NRL Nines, organiser David Higgins says – that’s just stadium staff and police doing their job.

“It’s unrealistic to think you can gather 46,000 people like that and not have a couple of minor issues.

“In a way, we’re reliant on the media not to turn minor issues into headlines.”

Following last week's Wellington Sevens tournament crowd behaviour at sporting events has been a hot topic.

Eden Park's neighbours are reportedly anxious, while the stadium's management says there will be a balance between allowing fans to have fun and maintaining order.

Duco Events director Mr Higgins told NBR ONLINE organisers have adopted cautious policies – including emailing fans to say if they’re intoxicated they won’t be let in – and employed 600 security guards.

“We’ve done all we can – we’ve created a product where we think the focus will be on the sport and compared to other full-day events – one day cricket, motor racing, concerts that are full-day – I think we’re as stringent as we could possibly be.”

On the way into the ground, there will be random breath tests and pat-downs. Once in, beer and RTDs are a maximum of 4% alcohol, and organisers have discretion to reduce the maximum number of drinks bought from four to two.

“The way it’s set up, even if you were hell-bent on getting intoxicated it would be physically difficult to do so – you’d have to spend all day in a queue.

Mr Higgins says he sympathises with Wellington Sevens organisers who, because of media spotlight on crowd behaviour, will now be under even greater media scrutiny.

“There will probably be some people kicked out and a couple arrested and that’s to be expected and if that’s all there is, we’ll look back and say at least nothing tragic occurred.

“We’ve done all we can and now it’s up to what happens and how the media choose to report it.”

Auckland's economic development agency, Ateed, is spending $12 million over five years on the NRL Nines, but the commercial risk lies with Duco Events.

The council organisation's $12 million budget on major events next year will bring a bumper crop of events to the city.

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