Reuters - Mon, 26 Apr 08:09:00 2010
Organisers of next year's rugby World Cup in New Zealand are delighted with the early interest in tickets with more than 50,000 people pre-registering to purchase team or venue packages.
Applications for tickets, which is the only source of revenue for organisers, open on Tuesday though rugby fans have been able to register their interest in acquiring tickets to follow specific teams or for individual venues since March.
Local organisers must rely on ticket sales to cover the cost of hosting the September 9-October 23 tournament, with the International Rugby Board retaining all commercially generated income as well as taking a NZ$150 million (£70 million) hosting fee.
The tournament's operating loss is expected to be around NZ$40m, which is being underwritten by the government and New Zealand Rugby Union, and Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden was ecstatic with the response by fans.
"This is a fantastic response and shows how popular rugby World Cup has become around the world," Snedden said.
"The rest of the world knows that RWC 2011 is going to be a special event so I urge Kiwi fans to take advantage of this first phase of ticketing."
Organisers said last week that 85,000 tickets had been sold already through official travel packages, while one official travel agent in England had reported sales nearly 40 per cent up on those over the same period for the 2007 tournament in France.
The first phase of sales for the estimated 1.65 million tickets for the 48 matches closes on May 21.
The second phase, when individual match tickets will be released, will begin in either August or September.
A third phase for tickets to the semi-finals and the final, all of which will be held at Eden Park in Auckland, is expected to begin in November. Every fan who applies for tickets in the first two phases will go into a ballot for those tickets.