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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 April 2007, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Rovers match marks city final end
Doncaster celebrate the winning goal at the Millennium Stadium

Thousands of fans flocked to Cardiff for the last showpiece football final at the Millennium Stadium.

Doncaster Rovers beat Bristol Rovers in the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, but future cup and play-off finals will revert to the new Wembley.

Stadium managers said the matches had brought "enormous value" and they aimed to fill the gap with other events.

Meanwhile, hoteliers said hosting events like the FA Cup final since 2001 had helped put the city on the map.

Hosting 46 finals, from the FA Cup, League Cup and trophy finals, to the three divisional play-off finals, has been worth millions of pounds to the south Wales economy, analysts have estimated.

Dermot Keegan, chairman of the Cardiff Hoteliers Association, said: "I wouldn't want to put a figure on it but it has given an exposure to Cardiff and Wales for an awful lot of families for the future.

With all due respect to Cardiff, 20 years ago we were competing with Reading as a weekend destination
Dermot Keegan
Cardiff Hoteliers Association

"The smaller events in particular, like this one, we have 150 people from Doncaster staying with us for the weekend, and they're going on tours, out to restaurants."

Mr Keegan said there had been a rise in numbers of hotels in the city since the first cup finals in 2001 and the trade would be working closely with the stadium, Wales Millennium Centre and Cardiff council.

Events planned already include a super 12 rugby league weekend in May, the British speedway grand prix, and concerts from Rod Stewart and The Police.

"We're going to miss them [the matches] but it's been great," said Mr Keegan.

"With all due respect to Cardiff, 20 years ago we were competing with Reading as a weekend destination."

'Benefited'

WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis said Sunday's 59,000 attendance had taken the aggregate crowd for the finals beyond the 2.6m barrier.

But now they faced the "challenge" to find new events.

"There can be little doubt that by hosting these matches the Millennium Stadium has grown in stature as a venue.

"What is also not in doubt is the enormous value these events have brought to Cardiff, as the Welsh capital, and Wales as a whole.

Scarves outside the Millennium Stadium
A clash of the Rovers - pre-match outside the stadium

"The Cardiff Business School estimated that the PR and marketing value of staging these cup finals in Wales was worth around 100m.

"Other, rather harder facts, prove that the Welsh economy has benefited by more than that amount.

"In thanking both the Football League and the Football Association for their business, I would also like to wish Wembley the best of luck when the events return there."

Cardiff council brought in the usual road closures until 1700 BST for the match, which League One side Doncaster won 3-2 after extra time.

Around 37,000 Bristol fans made the short trip over the Severn, while Doncaster brought around 20,000 supporters.




SEE ALSO
Bristol Rovers v Doncaster
31 Mar 07 |  Football
Tickets printed with wrong date
28 Feb 07 |  Bristol/Somerset
Challenge Cup returns to Wembley
28 Mar 07 |  Rugby League
Wembley will host play-off games
30 Mar 07 |  Football

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