ANZ Championship fans are voting with their feet as record numbers flock to matches in the most closely contested trans-Tasman competition in the league’s short history, with just four points separating the top seven teams.
Cumulative crowd numbers from either side of the Tasman show that the competition is enjoying an 18 per cent increase on both 2011 and 2010 seasons with over 134,000 attending the first nine rounds of this season’s ANZ Championship.
Along with the increasingly competitive balance on court, it’s the numbers off-court that have league and franchise bosses excited.
“It’s very pleasing from a league’s perspective that, in its fifth year, the ANZ Championship continues to grow both on and off the court with record crowds and television viewers appreciating the increasingly competitive competition,” ANZ Championship General Manager Andy Crook said.
“We’re certainly not going to start resting on our laurels: these increases are just indications that we are heading in the right direction in terms of competitive balance, sustainability and interest but there is plenty of work still to be done.”
The Melbourne Vixens are enjoying a memorable season to date both on and off the court as they lead the competition with seven victories from ten games, including six consecutive victories to start the season, at the top of the ANZ Championship ladder.
Off court, the Melbourne Vixens are setting franchise records on a weekly basis with the largest crowds for both a regular season fixture and cumulative home crowds.
The Vixens broke their franchise record for the largest regular season crowd two weeks in a row with 5511 against the NSW Swifts in Round Nine, which was immediately eclipsed by the Round Ten fixture against the Adelaide Thunderbirds which attracted a crowd of 7,212.
The decision to play all their home games at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena has already paid dividends for the Vixens with the club experiencing their highest cumulative home crowd for any ANZ Championship season despite still having one home game to come against Fever in a fortnight.
The NSW Swifts are also enjoying strong crowd numbers with an average of over 3,600 fans attending their first five home games, including the home game at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre against the Fever.
Last week the Swifts announced that their next home game against the Adelaide Thunderbirds had sold out 19 days before the fixture – the earliest a regular season home game has sold out prior to the match.
“This is a true testament to how strongly netball fans feel about the game, their team and the ANZ Championship as a whole,” NSW Swifts CEO Carolyn Campbell said.
“We have talked for some time with our fans and supporters about the importance of getting in early, or choosing to buy a Swifts membership, to ensure that you can see each and every home game of the regular season...and we are really there now.
“Based on the level of interest to date, and venue capacity we look like a total season attendance of around 27,000, toppling the season 2010 record which also had seven home games and a total of 26,003 ... it is a great outcome for the club and the competition.”
With four rounds still to be played and seven teams still in contention for the minor premiership and finals series, show your support your team by attending the remaining home games or watching on Network Ten or BigPond Sport TV.
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