Capacity crowds are expected at the Newcastle Cup after a huge response to the event's ticket ballot.
Fans could register for four free tickets on each day the World Surf League contest may run between April 1-11. The ballot closed Monday and tickets are being distributed to those who won them.
There were about 2700 tickets on offer to the public daily as the event was restricted to a capacity of about 3000, including surfers and officials, under NSW-government COVID-19 regulations.
But the restrictions have since eased and the Newcastle Herald understands the WSL has been considering how it can increase the event's capacity. Organised outdoor gatherings can now have the lesser of one person per two square metres or 5000 people. Complicating plans is how the event's main spectating area, the beach itself, shrinks with a rising tide.
Spectators gather along the beach promenade for Surfest, but fencing has been installed along Bathers Way and Henderson Parade to prevent people gathering outside the precinct to watch.
Those who miss out on tickets will be able to watch on at a live site Newcastle council is hosting at The Station. It will feature a big screen with all the action from Merewether, food trucks, family activities and an artwork production by Novocastrian Mitch Revs.
"WSL has had a huge response to its free ticket ballot being run through Ticketek, and it's looking like each surfing day will be at capacity at the Merewether Beach event precinct," lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said. "[The] live site will be the place to catch the action for anyone who missed out on tickets or simply looking for a fun, family-friendly atmosphere."
Cr Nelmes said the Newcastle Cup would be a timely boost for the city's economy given JobKeeper ended earlier this week.
"Already, the event is proving to be a major economic driver with our city's hotels bursting over the next two-week period, some at 100 per cent occupancy, accommodating the influx of WSL competitors, media representatives, event officials and fans," she said.
READ MORE: All our coverage of the Newcastle Cup
"We look forward to welcoming athletes and avid surfing fans to Newcastle and encourage locals to join in the atmosphere and excitement of the Newcastle Cup at The Station."
The WSL will host a Newcastle Cup media day at Merewether Surfhouse on Wednesday. NSW deputy premier John Barilaro is expected in town to help launch the event.
The council co-hosted a well-attended live site in King Edward Park when the 2018 A-League grand final was held in Newcastle.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: