Lions tour of South Africa expected to bring home unions close to zero

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The British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa, which due to the pandemic has had to take place behind closed doors, will generate little to no financial benefit for the original unions.

WRU Group CFO Tim Moss said a summer tour dividend, although numbers have to be finalized, is expected to be “close to zero” as he also confirmed that as a result of his new hotel, the union’s next income The capital-generating project will probably be an attraction on the roof of the Principality’s stadium.

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Although the numbers were not disclosed, it is understood that as of the Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017, the profit increase for the WRU has amounted to several million pounds.

The summer tour of South Africa generated a profit, but unlike previous tours, the reduced margin will mainly be used to support the company behind the Lions and the planning of the next tour scheduled to Australia in 2025.

Mr Moss said: “We have to be clear about this, but I would be surprised if there was a lot of return to unions [home] of the tour because it was so restricted due to Covid. The only rights available were broadcasting and some sponsorship. There was no ticketing, hospitality, or travel packages, which usually contribute quite a bit to Lions.

“So in terms of returns to the WRU, I think we’re probably going to be close to zero, once you take out all the tour costs, which would have been significantly higher because of Covid.”

Next month, the union’s new luxury Parkgate hotel, next to the Principality Stadium on Westgate Street, is expected to open.

The joint venture with Cardiff-based property development company Rightacres was funded by a £ 45million long-term repayable financing from L&G. The union is confident, once the hotel nears full occupancy, that it will be able to generate an annual income of around £ 1million, after factoring in refunds to L&G and management fees to Celtic Manor Collection, which will operate it. The expanding Celtic Manor collection portfolio includes the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.

The union, which is expected to receive its first installment from CVC Capital Partners after its investment in taking a minority stake in Six Nations by the end of the year, is now considering its next income-enhancing investment plans. As with WRU’s share of CVC’s minority investment in what was the Pro-14 League, its roughly £ 50million share of the Six Nations deal will be taken from a number of years.

While an interactive rugby museum has been identified as a possible project, a stadium rooftop walking attraction is now the current focus.

Mr Moss said: “A rooftop walk is a project that we are very keen on doing. I think that makes sense as we obviously already have the stadium in place and we would improve it with a new destination experience all year round. “

He said the union was talking to a number of potential rooftop stadium marching operators, but stressed that it was too early to say how much margin such an attractant could generate – which would be affected by the level of capital investment that the union agreed to put.

He added: “These are the conversations we have, but we would almost certainly engage with someone who has experience as it is not our expertise as we are used to hosting massive events on match days. . “

Rooftop walks of stadiums and iconic buildings are gaining popularity around the world. The O2 arena and Tottenham football stadium in London have them. A walk on the roof of the Principality would offer a breathtaking view of the city and beyond.

Along with a rooftop walk, there’s also potential for a more adrenaline-fueled attraction, like a high-speed zipline.

While the union does not disclose which companies it caters to, Gwynedd-based Zip World, which specializes in ziplines, and whose latest attraction at the old Tower Coal Mine in Cynon Valley opened earlier this year, could be a potential partner.

On plans for an interactive rugby experience museum, Mr Moss said: “It’s something we’d love to do, but it’s nowhere near as advanced as the rooftop terrace. The challenge would be to make it commercially viable, as something like this requires a fair amount of upfront investment and infrastructure. We don’t have the space in the stadium so we need the floor space and that would mean a rental agreement.

It is understood that the union has considered a number of locations for a rugby museum, including the Stadium Plaza leisure program next to the Principality’s stadium.


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