WELLINGTON, (Reuters) – New Zealand’s taxpayers will be breathing a slight sigh of relief after ticket sales for the rugby World Cup surged in the past six weeks, with more than one million now snapped up for the Sept. 9-Oct. 23 competition.
Tournament organisers are only allowed to keep revenue generated from ticket sales and must underwrite the costs of hosting the tournament and pay a licence fee to the world governing International Rugby Board.
Organisers had budgeted for ticket revenue of about NZ$268 million ($221.3 million) from the sale of 1.35 million tickets and an operating loss of about NZ$40 million, which is to be underwritten by the government and New Zealand Rugby Union.
They were dealt a blow when they were forced to refund about NZ$20 million after matches were moved from Christchurch following a devastating earthquake on Feb. 22 and admitted concerns over the slow pace of reselling those tickets.
Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden, however, said on Wednesday that about 211,000 tickets had been sold in the past six weeks, taking the total past one million and the revenue to NZ$220 million — 82 percent of their budget.
The final phase of ticket sales began on Monday.
“This is a fantastic result and is about where we expected to be with little over two months until the tournament kicks-off,” Snedden said in a statement.
“We expect tickets to continue to sell strongly from here as happened at rugby World Cup in France in 2007 and Australia in 2003.”
($1 = NZ$1.211)