Townsville braces for influx of footy fans

Fraser Barton
(Australian Associated Press)


Tents, extra entertainment and a ‘Northern Caxton Street’ are all part of Townsville’s blockbuster plans for the city’s inaugural State of Origin match.

Game one is expected to inject $7 million dollars into the local economy and a short 10-day notice has sent organisers into overdrive.

Match tickets were sold out within 15 minutes as tens of thousands joined online queues while others fronted ticketing stores.

For those lucky enough to snag tickets, their next obstacle was maneuvering the saturated hotel market, with prices marked up and near full capacity declared just days from the event.

Townsville’s answer was the creation of ‘Tent City’, 100 tents trucked from Gympie to give footy fans their own base south of the CBD to stay during Origin.

Since launching last Friday afternoon, the improvised accommodation has received a number of bookings and more than 7000 visits to the booking page, Townsville Enterprise says.

Fans staying at the temporary site will be provided transport to and from the game, 24-hour security and toilet facilities.

Local council has also unveiled large plans to transform the popular Flinders Street into the Caxton Street of the north.

Giant screens will be erected to cope with overflow with bands and entertainment scheduled throughout the day.

Caxton Street is well known for its game-day buzz in Brisbane and Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill says she believes the same can be done up north.

“We’re going to really ramp up the atmosphere of the street eats events we’ve held recently and continue it along the entirety of Flinders Street and throughout Central Park with roving entertainers leading the way to the Stadium.”

Flinders Street is expected to welcome more than 10,000 patrons come game day with the city’s restaurants, bars and clubs fully booked in preparation.

There will also be live Origin live sites established to allow people to watch the game across the community.

Last week around 2000 extra seats were trucked from the Gold Coast and Sydney to increase Queensland Country Bank’s Stadium capacity to just shy of 28,000.

Construction finished on Monday with organisers confident the temporary seats will provide uninterrupted viewing.

“We’ve got a team at the moment working through to ensure there’s no sightlines and we need to make sure that every page is the best possible viewing experience,” Stadium manager Tom Kimball said.

“Rest assured, the seats that will be there will be exceptional.

“Once we know that all those seats there have no restrictions, and they’re and they’re ready to go they’ll be on sale tomorrow (Tuesday).”



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