League night out 'awesome'
By MICHELLE DAY
COFFS Harbour City Council has declared itself happy with the staging of Thursday's City Origin v Country Origin match despite players, coaches and spectators all commenting on the subdued atmosphere.
Acting manager of economic development Jenny Oloman yesterday said she was happy with the crowd of about 8200 and the event in general.
"It was a good night and the stadium looked awesome. All the elements came together," Ms Oloman said.
"Some people have expressed that the crowd was down slightly but I thought for a Thursday during a school week and for a televised event, we were happy with the numbers."
Ms Oloman said a lot of people from out of town commented favourably on the event.
"The traffic management was certainly better and council and police worked hard to get that right," she said.
"Big effort went into fixing any criticisms we had in the past."
Organisers moved quickly to redistribute staff when long lines began to form at the entrances.
"We underestimated the number of pre-sold tickets to tickets sold on the night ... we will look at the pre-sold entrance areas more closely next time to make it quicker for people to enter the ground," Ms Oloman said.
"We are about adapting and learning. Events of this magnitude are really important to the community from an economic point of view and also from a social point of view - that people in the country get to see first-class events that they would normally have to travel to see.
"We are about building a facility and team that is capable of staging national events and I believe we are close to achieving that."
City captain Craig Gower said Coffs Harbour was welcoming and had some great training facilities, although 'we would have liked more people to get out to the game -- but it was a Thursday night'.
City coach Tim Sheens was happy with the playing surface but left it up to league hierarchy to decide whether they would return for future games.
Country coach Craig Bellamy went further and said he was surprised by the atmosphere.
"The crowd didn't really get into it," he said, while Country captain Danny Buderus said he was disappointed with the atmosphere.
"It was very quiet playing in the middle. The venue and Coffs Harbour was very nice, it's always a pleasure to come up here and play rugby league."