Crusaders officials have shown confidence that the new Christchurch Stadium will be ready for the fifth round Investec Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs on March 24 by opening season ticket sales to the public on Wednesday.
Despite the franchise losing $700,000 last year after the February 22 earthquake forced the Crusaders to play all their home matches away, the season ticket prices have not been hiked. The price of a ticket for seven Crusaders home games and five Canterbury home matches starts at $162.50.
Season ticket-holders will have the right to purchasing a ticket to the All Blacks versus Ireland test at the ground on June 16. The venue can cater for 17,000 with extra seating likely to be made available for the international match.
Chief executive Hamish Riach said that the temptation to increase the cost in an attempt to recover lost revenue from last season had been resisted .
"We want people to feel good about coming," he said.
It will be a race against time, however, to have Christchurch Stadium properly finished for the Cheetahs match. The Addington site, formerly known as Rugby League Park, has had the old stands demolished and the ground has been prepared for the new buildings and the foundations laid for the lighting towers.
It remains rather skeletal, but Riach said that the feedback was extremely positive and the Economic Development Ministry which is undertaking the stadium's rebuild was confident the work would be completed on time.
Riach said that the Crusaders would probably need maximum crowds at every match just to return a profit and he was hopeful of that happening with the prospect of additional monies should the Crusaders reach the later play-off stages. He was also encouraged by the support from their commercial partners.
"If it gets to the point where we make even a small profit, I would be the happiest man in New Zealand."