Wellington Phoenix drew the biggest crowds in the world at the time for a sporting event in 2021, but where did they come from?

Comparing Auckland (left) to Wellington (right) in numbers of visitors to the area that went to the Wellington Phoenix games. Games started around 4pm and finished around 6pm.

With our population data, we often look to these events to help us improve our model, as numbers of crowds can easily be found. The two May matches the Wellington Phoenix played in Wellington and Auckland was an excellent opportunity to see a large event being held in two different areas of New Zealand since COVID-19 landed in our country.

A key influencer of events is what type of crowd is coming and from where — this can really determine where marketing needs to be directed, types of transport to be organised, and many other factors you wouldn’t appreciate when heading into a stadium for a large event.

We decided to compare the two events, one in Wellington on a Saturday (22nd May, 4pm to 6:30pm) and one in Auckland on a Sunday (30th May, 3:30pm to 5pm).

What you’ll see are two very different visuals of crowds gathering at a suburb level going to/from the stadiums before and after the game. Another important note is that this is only visualising the data around visitors to the area, so this gives a good measure of fans who aren’t normally in the Wellington or Auckland areas arriving specifically to watch the Phoenix.

It is very clear that the Auckland game attracted a lot of people who aren’t normally in Auckland, meaning the reach for the game was far wider than Wellington’s game.

Could it be that Wellington locals were more supportive of the Wellington A-League team, and even travelled to Auckland for the second game? Is the heart of football for New Zealand in Wellington? Are people in the Wellington region better footballers than the rest of New Zealand? We’ll leave you to make those judgements.

In the meantime, don’t forget to catch the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England on the 22nd of July @ 7:00am and support your local cafe/bar who is putting on the show.

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