WP Rugby staying put

Newlands Stadium will remain the home of Western Province rugby after the WPRFU voted unanimously against a possible move to the Cape Town Stadium.

Earlier this year it was reported that Newlands' future was under threat, after the stadium failed to comply with new safety regulations set forward by the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act.

However, following a special general meeting that was convened to discuss the investigation of the feasibility and desirability to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium, the WPRFU have voted to remain at the ground that first opened to the public in 1888.

The decision was unanimous, with the clubs and owners of the union listing a number of factors behind their decision.

The main considerations are:

  • The WPRFU owns Newlands Rugby Stadium – including the ground it is built on – outright and is thereby in complete control of its own destiny. Any position for the WPRFU at the Cape Town Stadium will be as a tenant or a minority shareholder in an operating entity as the City has made it very clear the ownership will always remain that of the City.
  • Whilst selling Newlands Rugby Stadium and moving to the Cape Town Stadium would result in a significant one-off cash injection for the WPRFU, it would be financially very difficult to ever own, purchase or build another stadium in the future, in all likelihood relegating Western Province to a tenant in perpetuity.
  • There is a model whereby the existing Newlands Rugby Stadium and surrounding properties owned by the WPRFU can be redeveloped to create an additional income stream for the Union and to enhance the area and nearby sporting stadia/facilities.
  • Spectator numbers at sporting events globally are under threat on an annual basis and we are concerned about the effect on the atmosphere in catering to smaller crowds in a 55,000-seater stadium.
  • The operating costs pertaining to events at Newlands Rugby Stadium are significantly lower than those at the Cape Town Stadium.
  • The capital replacement costs at Newlands Rugby Stadium are significantly lower than those at the Cape Town Stadium.
  • Co-ordination of events at the Cape Town Stadium will be more difficult – especially in light that certain major entertainment events (such as concerts) are scheduled 12 to 18 months in advance, whereas the WPRFU would finalise its Super Rugby/Currie Cup schedules only by October of the previous year.

Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images