RugbyU: N.Zealand says World Cup already breaking records

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The Independent Online

The Rugby World Cup is already the highest-grossing event in New Zealand's history, with more than nine months still to go before the tournament begins, organisers said Thursday.

Rugby NZ 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said 864,000 tickets had been sold for the tournament, which will run from September 9 to October 23 next year, generating 166 million dollars (122.5 million US) in ticket revenue.

Snedden said plans to sell 1.45 million tickets were on track, eclipsing the nation's previous highest grossing event, the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour, which netted 24 million dollars in revenue.

"We are on track to achieve the forecast total ticket sales revenue of 268 million dollars," he told reporters in Christchurch.

Snedden said the ambitious targets were "always going to be a big leap into the unknown" but sales had been bolstered by strong international interest.

He said 85,000 overseas visitors were expected to travel to New Zealand for the tournament.

Rugby World Cup Limited managing director Mike Miller said he was pleased with the progress New Zealand was making.

"What I am seeing, having made several visits to New Zealand in the past year, is a country that is advanced in its preparations to host a fantastic Rugby World Cup," he said.

A Rugby NZ 2011 spokesman said the revenue generated was a record for all events held in New Zealand, not just sporting events.

"There's never been anything of this scale held in this country," he said.