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Wellington puts out the welcome mat for Lions

13 June 2005

Wellington puts out the welcome mat for Lions

Wellington is gearing up for a big party when the British and Irish Lions tour hits town on Wednesday.

“Around 50,000 people are expected to pour into the city to watch the Wellington Lions playing the British and Irish Lions at the Westpac Stadium or enjoy the televised coverage at bars and at venues around the city. We’re keen to welcome them and help them experience some good old-fashioned Wellington hospitality but we also want people to enjoy themselves in a safe way so a liquor ban will operate in the central city,” says Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast.

The liquor ban will be in place from 12 noon Wednesday 15 June until 6am on Thursday 16 June and means that it is prohibited to possess or consume alcohol in public places such as streets, parks and the waterfront in the central city. Police will enforce the liquor ban.

Parking is expected to be at a premium on game day and the Council is encouraging people to leave their cars at home. “We’re asking that people try and leave their cars at home and take the bus or train instead,” says Mayor Prendergast. “Commuters also need to bear in mind that there will be more people in the city during rush hour so their journey home may take a little longer.”

“We’re anticipating that there will be a large number of people coming into the city to watch the game at bars and because of that we are encouraging people to get to the Stadium early. The best way to get to the Stadium on time may be to walk.”

Additional Walkwise staff will be on hand to advise and direct visitors.

To ease the traffic flow around the Stadium, electronic message boards to advise motorists will be erected on SH 2 near the railyards, Post Office Square and on Aotea Quay. The signs will be updated regularly. The Westpac Stadium is advising taxis and other vehicles to drop off rugby fans in Bunny Street to avoid clogging Waterloo Quay.

The thousands of visitors are expected to make a significant contribution to the local economy and although exact figures won’t be known until after the tour, Mayor Prendergast is encouraging the city to put its best foot forward. “We want to showcase Wellington in the best possible light and ensure that our visitors have such a fantastic time, they tell everyone back home just how great our city is, and, of course, come back again.”

Mayor Prendergast says that although the city welcomes the Barmy Army and all other visitors, the British and Irish Lions should not expect an easy ride on the field. “Our boys will play hard and fair and I’m urging every loyal supporter to put on the black and gold come game day,” she says.


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