Ticket prices anger league fans
By CRAIG McTEAR
PAUL Dwyer reckons it's a 'disgraceful rip-off'.
The Woolgoolga Rugby League Club secretary is fuming over the $40 grandstand admission charge to Coffs Harbour's international stadium for the February 25 NRL trial match between the Knights and the Sharks.
"A family going to the football is not going to get any change out of $100 before buying a soft drink," Mr Dwyer said.
"From a promotional point of view, in trying to get people to an NRL game and see their heroes, you've priced them right out of the park."
He said crowds were not guaranteed of seeing the big names play. Clubs didn't usually put their number one squads on the paddock in pre-season games because they wanted to trial their 'up-and-comers'.
Knights' captain Andrew Johns is reportedly in doubt for the encounter due to a lack of match fitness, but Coffs Harbour Sports Unit manager Ben Payne says it is likely Johns will play half a game.
Outer ground tickets are: family $50 (two adults and two children) adults $20, concessions $15, children (aged six to 14) $10, while children aged under five are free.
The Sawtell Panthers, Coffs Harbour Comets, the Orara Valley Axemen and the Woolgoolga Seahorses will feature in curtain-raisers to the main game.
The $40 (no concessions) tickets compare to $18 for adults to watch the Parramatta Eels and Melbourne Storm at Ballina on Saturday, $20 for adult reserve seating at Central Coast Stadium on February 18 for the Roosters versus Sea Eagles, $20 for adults at Sharks versus Bulldogs at Mollymook Oval on February 18, and $35 for adult grandstand seating at Port Panthers Sports Ground on February 25 when the Panthers and Eels do battle.
Mr Payne said ticket prices for the Coffs Harbour trial were set in conjunction with the visiting NRL clubs, which had the final say on pricing.
"A few factors go into it, namely the standard of the teams, and obviously past prices ($35) from trial games here."
The city council and the sports unit were 'very supportive' of rugby league and did a 'very strong job' to encourage and promote it, with a financial contribution to Group 2 Rugby League flowing from the trial match.
Mr Payne also said the stadium was 'second only to some major capital city venues', while a family area on the playing surface would be available for the trial game.
Sawtell Panthers secretary Donna Tulloh said she didn't know how the $40 charge could be justified.
"On the Australia Day weekend, we watched international games at the stadium for $15 in the grandstand at the Orara Valley Sevens," she said.
"I won't be going for $40 a ticket, and the price of food out there is exorbitant.
"It could end up costing you $80 for the day. This is why we don't get the crowds out there.
"You only get one game like this a year, but you're turning them away because of ticket prices.
"Unemployed people in Coffs would love to see the Sharks and the Knights, but how can they afford to watch their heroes?
"The four rugby league clubs in Coffs Harbour should be running it, because we do it every week during the season. We do it best."
Comets president Ian Trengove thought $40 was expensive, particularly in comparison to other areas.
"When you're promoting rugby league, it's the kids you want to get there," he said.
"It's about atmosphere. There would be nothing worse than these guys turning up to play in front of only 500 people."
Axemen secretary Hans van der Donk said it was an expensive price to pay for a ticket, and there was 'no way my family could go'.
Whatdo you think? Is $40 too much to pay to watch the NRL trial game? Have your say by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or 53 Moonee Street, Coffs Harbour 2450.