March 20, 2007
By John Mehaffey
Basseterre, St Kitts,(Reuters)
St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas defended World Cup ticket prices and predicted a sell-out crowd for Saturday’s Group A fixture between champions Australia and South Africa at Warner Park.
Douglas said the minimum price for a ticket was $25 U.S. while the per capita income in the tiny Caribbean nation was $8,000.“Our residents have had some time to save,” he told a news conference on Tuesday. “We started the competition slowly but we are getting there. I am sure on Saturday we will see the stadium bursting at the seams.”
Ticket prices and disappointing attendances for the group matches have attracted media criticism throughout the Caribbean in the first two weeks of the first World Cup to be staged in the West Indies.
Warner Park, which has a capacity of 10,500, has not yet been half full, although exact figures have been not been available.
Charles Wilkin, chairman of the local organising committee, said 8,000 tickets had already been sold for Saturday’s match.
“By Saturday it will be sold out,” he said.
Sports Minister Ricky Skerritt, a former manager of the West Indies team, said if the home team had been playing the stadiums would have been full.
He added that it would have been impossible to pay for the kind of television exposure the World Cup had attracted.
“The exposure has exceeded our expectations,” he said.
Desmond described ticket prices, which are up to $90 for first round matches as “challenging”.
“The prices are high but I think people appreciate for international quality matches you have to pay,” Wilkin added.