Rugby World Cup 2015
World Cup chiefs confident of hitting ticket target
Graham Jenkins at Twickenham
May 2, 2013
The World Cup makes itself at home at Twickenham © Getty Images
Rugby World Cup 2015 bosses are confident that the venues selected for the tournament will enable them to meet the financial demands of hosting the sport's showpiece event and also generate the profit they hope will fuel the growth of the game in England.
The 2015 World Cup grounds
The withdrawal of Manchester United FC's 75,800-capacity Old Trafford ground from the selection process and restrictions on the use of the 90,000-seater Wembley Stadium had sparked fears that tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 may struggle to sell their initial target of 2.9m tickets, meet the £80m hosting fee demanded by the International Rugby Board and deliver on their planned investment in the game.
ER 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans has admitted that the ticket target has since been adjusted - with a 'sold out' tournament set to generate 2.58m ticket sales - but their financial goals remains in sight. "We are confident we will be well above 2m [in ticket sales] and we're confident the capacities we have are right and appropriate."
Jevans has also reassured fans that organisers still intend to make the tournament as accessible as possible with a pledge to honour the previously stated aim of offering tickets for as little as £7-10 with sales set to begin next year. However, the average price of tickets is set to be a lot higher due to the loss of revenue from the missing 300,000 seats.
"We are confident the financial targets will be met and the consequence of that is that it allows us to invest back into the game which is vitally important for us," she said. "We are looking at the ticketing strategy and hope to announce the prices later this year. The capacities have reduced but not to a great extent if you take the overarching opportunity we have and the figure we quoted at the beginning was always going to be a maximum. And having looked at the venues and the matches we have we are confident we will be able to honour the minimum prices and certainly enable us to do that."
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie played down economic concerns by stressing that the legacy of the tournament will take priority. "We see this as part of a five-year plan for before, during and after the tournament," he said. "The rugby is the most important thing, for us to inspire people to play rugby, to seek out opportunities in the lead up to it, during and after the event.
"We're comfortable with the financial side of things but the financials are subordinate to those objectives we have talked about and the legacy for rugby in this country. We want to seize that opportunity as that is the most significant things are far as we are concerned."
Jevans hailed the geographic scope of the tournament although London will host 16 of the 48 matches with Cardiff's Millennium Stadium the home for a further eight games. However, Jevans insists their choice of venues ensures "92% of the population will be within 50 miles of a World Cup venue".
The extensive use of the Millennium Stadium is sure to raise eyebrows - although Wales' crunch clashes with England and Australia will take place at Twickenham - but Jevans shrugged off the suggestion they were co-hosting the tournament.
"Clearly rugby at the Millennium Stadium creates an amazing atmosphere, we see that in the Six Nations and it is no secret that we have had to look to go into bigger stadia as well. Wales have been a major partner in this and as one of the iconic rugby stadiums we felt it right and appropriate to host a number of matches there."
Jevans also allayed fears that the Olympic Stadium - that is due to undergo major redevelopment before long-term tenants West Ham FC move in - will be a work in progress come the tournament. "The Olympic Stadium will not be a building site," she said. "The roof will be in place, we have got a detailed plan for the relaying of the pitch with undersoil heating. It will be an amazing venue."
Exeter's Sandy Park and Gloucester's Kingsholm are the only two traditional club grounds on the13-venue list with organisers heavily reliant on football grounds with Jevans keen to thank the Premier League and the Football League for their co-operation in the selection process. That relationship is set to continue due to the fact the fixtures for the season that will run alongside the World Cup will not be announced until a couple of months before the tournament.
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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.