Giant Rugby Ball Lands In Sydney

New Zealand’s Giant Rugby Ball will officially open in Sydney this Thursday (2 September), marking the start of the Ball’s fourth and final international appearance.

The 25-metre-long, 13-metre-high giant inflatable venue is already in place at its iconic Circular Quay location, with stunning views of the Sydney Opera House and within easy walking distance of Circular Quay ferry and train terminals.

It will be officially opened at 7am on Thursday morning in an opening ceremony to be attended by the Maori King, Kiingi Tuheitia Paki, and Australian and New Zealand dignitaries.

The opening ceremony will involve Aboriginal and Maori elders, in what will be the first official meeting of the two cultures on this scale.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the Ball’s presence in Sydney is timed to coincide with the Bledisloe Cup Match on 11 September and will make the most of media opportunities around this event.

“Australia is an important market for visitors to New Zealand for next year’s Rugby World Cup and the Giant Rugby Ball enables highly visible promotion of New Zealand as the host nation.” he says.

“The Ball and surrounding activities will present New Zealand as an exciting holiday destination for Australians, both now and in 2011, and showcase a range of experiences that visitors to New Zealand can enjoy.”

The Ball will open to the public on Friday (3 September) and will be open each day through to 12 September. Around 18,000 visitors are expected to pass through the Ball while it is in Sydney.

Tourism New Zealand is working with partners including the Government’s New Zealand 2011 Office, Rugby New Zealand 2011 and New Zealand Inc agencies including New Zealand Trade & Enterprise to ensure the Ball promotes New Zealand as a place to visit and do business with.

The New Zealand Government has estimated that around 21,000 Australians will visit New Zealand for the World Cup, which will kick off in just over one year’s time.

Facts and figures about the New Zealand Rugby Ball Venue

Giant Rugby Ball specifics:

  • The Ball itself is a temporary inflatable venue that measures 25 metres long, 17 metres wide (at its widest point) and 13 metres high. It can hold up to 220 people.
  • A key feature of the Ball is a 10-minute audiovisual show that transforms the interior of the Ball into a variety of New Zealand environments from the depths of the ocean, beaches, volcanoes and bush walks, to the sidelines rugby games.
  • The venue takes five days to construct.
  • The air system works by two air pumps expelling 8,000 litres per second.
  • A revolving door allows the movement of people in and out of the Ball while maintaining the interior air pressure.
  • The Ball can house an estimated 600,000 conventional rugby balls.
  • 1500 sq metres of PVC blockout fabric is used in the Ball.
  • The Ball was created by New Zealand’s Inside Out Productions, which was also responsible for the three-storey Louis Vuitton suitcase that toured the world for Louis Vuitton’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
  • It was designed and built by New Zealand’s Fabric Structure Systems, global specialists in inflatable and temporary structures.
  • In October 2008 the Ball was awarded a Gold Award in the Design Institute of New Zealand’s BeST Design Awards.

Sydney event specifics:

  • The venue will be open to the public from 3 September to 12 September 2010. It will be officially opened on 2 September.
  • The presence in Sydney is timed to correspond with the Bledisloe Cup match being played in Sydney on 11 September.
  • The Giant Rugby Ball will be managed by Tourism New Zealand; festival activities outside the Ball will be managed by New Zealand 2011.
  • Tours will be run every half hour from 11.00am each day the Ball is open. It is free to the public.
  • In the evenings, the Ball will provide a unique setting for a number of planned corporate and sector showcase events.
  • Up to 18,000 people are expected to visit the interior of the Rugby Ball venue during the week it is open. The daily shows will promote New Zealand as a place to live, work and do business.

Opening ceremony:

  • An opening ceremony and blessing will take place at 7am on 2 September.
  • This ceremony will be led by elders from Aboriginal and Maori cultures and will be the first official meeting of these two cultures on such a scale.

Previous appearances for the Giant Rugby Ball:

  • The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France – October 2007: The Giant Rugby Ball was installed in front of the Eiffel Tower in central Paris during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. During the 15 days the Ball was open, an estimated world-wide media audience of over 137 million was exposed to coverage of the Ball; 24,000 people passed through the interior of the Ball.
  • Potters Field, London, England – November 2008: 7,500 people visited the Ball when it was installed alongside London’s iconic Tower Bridge in November 2008. As well as hosting the Queen, Prince Phillip, the touring All Blacks side and Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the Ball was the venue for the International Rugby Board’s Rugby World Cup 2011 pool draw. Media coverage reached an estimated 200 million people around the world.
  • The Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, Japan – October 2009: An average of 2,000 people per day visited the Ball during the six days that it was located in downtown Tokyo. Media coverage reached millions and visits to Tourism New Zealand’s Japanese consumer website spiked at nearly 8,000 visits per day.

Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia – September 2010
Source = Tourism New Zealand
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