Road warriors Phoenix relish ALM return

·2-min read

A jumbled fixture isn't stopping Wellington Phoenix from targeting a record attendance this season as they savour a return to home crowds.

The luckless Nix have been hamstrung by border closures, but have been granted a return-to-normal fixture with a full suite of home games for the first time since the 2018-19 A-League Men season.

They'll celebrate with two matches at Wellington's Sky Stadium to start the campaign, against Adelaide United on October 9 and Central Coast a week later.

"We can't wait," Phoenix chief executive David Dome told AAP.

"No doubt there's huge pent up demand. We think the Phoenix will have decent crowds this summer."

While A-League attendances have shrunk each year since the 2013-14 campaign, the Phoenix have produced huge one-off crowds in the last two seasons during brief windows that have allowed home games.

The challenge is now to keep them coming to support Ufuk Talay's side.

"Because we've been away for two and a half years our membership base has eroded so we're going to have to rebuild that again," Dome said.

"We're confident people will want to come back and see live football again. Especially with the side Uffy is assembling."

Dome said the club's ambition was to hit regular 10,000-strong crowds, believing it possible this campaign - even with some fixture quirks.

Wellington will play one home game in Wollongong as a goodwill gesture for their home-away-from-home in recent seasons.

Of 12 other home games, nine will be at Sky Stadium and three are yet to be locked in.

In addition to the World Cup break, the Nix also go for stretches without a home game, including all of February.

Dome said the fixture's oddities were due to a huge number of touring artists coming through New Zealand in coming months.

"Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Joel, Elton John, Harry Styles. All these guys are rolling through New Zealand and sucking up huge number of days in stadia."

The intention is to play the three TBC matches at Sky or Auckland's Eden Park, but the Nix will look elsewhere "if the business case is right".

All 12 of their games in New Zealand will kick off at 3pm, delighting Dome.

"The timing of games is really really positive this year, credit has to go to APL and the broadcasters (because) the family market is a big base for us."

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