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Venue Vede Vince

Nowadays maximising the revenues of a sports stadium is vital – not just in sport but theatre too.

This has attracted bad publicity as the high prices of tickets have been cited at Fulham, Chelsea and popular West End theatrical productions.

It’s a slightly skewed argument as the top price is always quoted. At Craven Cottage, Fulham, you are not obliged to pay for a premium seat but can buy one in the other three stands.

Tottenham Hotspur have set the way in maximising revenue with alternative sports such as Premiership Rugby and NFL football.

Oddly enough it was Saracens’ opponents on Saturday Harlequins who were the first to play big matches at big venues and Sarries now move from their home ground Stonex to Tottenham Hotspur for the Big Match, achieving a crowd of 61,000.

Derek Williams commented that the sight-lines were excellent, the screens crystal clear and the concourse wide.

It is also a feature of Premiership rugby that fans can mix and mingle with no fear of hooliganism. Although Quins were overwhelmed he enjoyed the match day experience.

One major problem is the lack of a Tube station within 5 minutes of the ground.

It’s amazing how quickly a stadium can fall behind.

For years Manchester United’s Old Trafford was the model in terms of capacity and revenue generation with Liverpool’s Anfield well behind, but now it is Old Trafford that requires massive refurbishment.

In cricket the smaller non-Test Match grounds have had extensive development projects with Bristol, Hove and Canterbury surrounded by apartment blocks.

In Sussex’s case they came out of Covid in good financial shape but let most of their first team go in order to reduce the wage bill. The lack of consequent success has angered members. Hove is also the venue of an annual concert by a famous performer.

It is not just the smaller non-Test counties that are suffering but Warwickshire (Edgbaston) and Yorkshire (Headingley) too.

I recall meeting a Warwickshire committee member a few years ago who, fed up with meetings taken up by promoting the venue and not the county, was going to resign.

The competition is out there with many preferring to watch sport in the comfort of their own homes and less money is about.

It will be interesting to see how sport emerges.

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About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts