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Official Review by Stephen Gillam, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Representing the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, the Hurricanes have competed in the Super Rugby competition since 1996. The team plays its home games in Westpac Stadium, affectionately known as "The Cake Tin" because of its design. The home is shared with the Wellington Phoenix of the A-League (soccer).
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Don't expect anything interesting in this regard. The food is decent, yet pricey and not outstanding. Beer is $7; the same price as a pint in town but smaller and not as good. I'd complain about it, but it's a stadium.
The overall atmosphere is interesting during the 2012 season. The team is struggling at the moment, but that seems to have fostered a siege mentality among the locals. As with most rugby crowds, they're still fairly quiet but this year feels different.
Around aisles 32 to 34 is the newly minted Flying Squadron - a fan club very similar to the local football club's Yellow Fever. These guys are keen to get behind their team and have a good time while doing so.
Westpac Stadium is a short walk from the city's Central Business District. Of course, that means shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs are all in the vicinity.
In terms of options within a block or two, most of the surrounding eateries are closed after game time. There is a McDonald's opposite the railway station for those who want a taste of the red, white, blue and barely digestable. For pubs, The Occidental is on Lambton Quay and offers decent options for food and drink as well as a place to watch later games.
Trax is a decent cafe and bar to meet up or get something before the game.
A lot of rugby fans know their stuff when it comes to their religion game, despite a natural touch of bias about perceptions on the opposing team's behavior or the referee's decisions. Wellington is, however, a generally accepting city and the fans aren't too different. Most don't mind a friendly chat during the game, provided you're not too distracting.
Another special mention should go to the aforementioned Flying Squadron - an enthusiastic bunch of fans who create an enjoyable atmosphere for those that are interested in music and chanting. A zone like the one they've been allotted has really been overdue in Wellington.
The stadium is right by Wellington's transport hub, so coming from anywhere in the city or even the country need not be a problem. It's also very easy to walk around Wellington so if you're in the area and feel like saving your money while working out then that can easily be accomplished.
Parking can be expensive and hard to find, both at the stadium and around the area so if you're taking a vehicle I suggest leaving a bit earlier than you otherwise would.
One other problem is that there is only one causeway to the ground. While it's wide and splits off four times, big crowds tend to get funneled on the way out and this can cause congestion.
The cheapest tickets are around $25, which is pretty inexpensive. Despite room for improvement, the facilities are more than sufficient and the games are usually pretty decent to watch.
Two words that can't be left out of this review: Captain Hurricane. This guy is the team's mascot whose plane puts Flava Flav's bling collection to shame, while sporting what I read an American blogger calling a "pedo moustache".
Security is pretty good too; they're clearly marked and usually don't mind helping out if needed.
Photo attributed to Hamedog.
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101 Lambton Quay
Lambton, New Zealand 6011
(04) 473 2548
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