Lions match drives big thirst

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Strong patronage around last week’s British and Irish Lions match against the Highlanders has been likened to the excitement around the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

“It was great,” Craic Irish Tavern owner Claire Grenfell said.

“We had a really good Monday night and Tuesday night was excellent, no issues whatsoever, really great crowd.

“It sort of had a bit of a world cup atmosphere. It sort of took us back to 2011.”

Mrs Grenfell’s comments came off the back of figures released by electronic payments firm Paymark last week showing that electronic payments through hospitality merchants in Otago linked to their network amounted to $2.5million between noon Monday and noon Wednesday.

That was $860,000 more than during the same days and hours of the first four weeks of May.

The largest increase occurred between 5pm and 7pm on match day and between 10pm to midnight.

Dunedin publicans The Star spoke to reported good patronage.

Terrace Bar owner John McDonald said the turnover for his bar had been “outstanding” on match day.

He said the bar was busy from Tuesday morning until closing time the following Wednesday morning.

Patronage was not quite as big as an All Blacks test but “it wasn’t far away”.

He said the high turnout for hospitality providers showed the value of a covered stadium in Dunedin.

“I doubt we would have got that many people if it had been outdoors.”

Mac’s Brew Bar Stuart St co-owner Mark Fraser said patronage “was huge”.

He reported good numbers of Lions and Highlanders fans.

Mr Fraser was impressed by Lions supporters’ staying power.

“There was definitely a lot of Lions fans and they came in and they sat all day. I don’t know what it is about their neck of the woods, but they seem to have this ability to drink all day and they don’t really seem to get to the point where you need to start cutting people off.”

Mr Fraser said he and brother Nick had only owned the bar for five months so he was looking forward to comparing the turnout from the Lions’ match with those for August’s Bledisloe Cup test match.

Mrs Grenfell said there were “definitely” more Lions supporters than Highlanders supporters.