South Africa is set to be gripped by British & Irish Lions fever this week as more than 70,000 tickets for the Castle South Africa 2009 Lions Series go on sale.
The tickets, which become available on Monday, 23 February in South Africa only, are part of the second phase of sales for the eagerly-anticipated series and are available for seven of the 10 tour matches.
“If we ever doubted the uniqueness of a tour by the British & Irish Lions it has been driven home to us over the past few months,” said Andy Marinos, acting managing director of SA Rugby.
“The demand from our stakeholders has been enormous. Everyone realises we’re not just talking about an 80 minute rugby match, but about a lifetime of memories.
“We could have sold many of the games twice over.”
Season ticket and suite ticket holders were rewarded for their loyalty by being given preference in first-phase sales, which opened last year. Their uptake of tickets plus commitments to other rugby stakeholders means that only a limited number of Test tickets are available for the three-match series.
Approximately 30 000 tickets for the match against a Coastal XV in Port Elizabeth on 16 June will go on sale once the seating configuration of the new Nelson Bay Mandela Stadium has been confirmed. Further tickets are expected to become available as deadlines expire for the uptake of first-phase tickets by stakeholders.
“There are 2,500 Test match tickets available the third Test at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg, but such is the demand at the smaller Absa Stadium and Loftus Versfeld that there are only hospitality packages available,” explained Andre Homan, SA Rugby’s project manager for the Castle South Africa 2009 Lions Series.
“There are normally only a very small number of Test tickets available for any big Test in South Africa, but our ability to satisfy the huge local demand is affected by the requirements and responsibilities we have to the Lions.
“We expect 50 000 British and Irish visitors for the series – for which the Lions receive only 11,000 tickets per Test – which obviously has a significant impact on our ability to satisfy the local demand.”