Why Cape Town Stadium needs spectators to return
INTERVIEW: World Rugby recently made two significant announcements, both that will benefit the Cape Town Stadium.
Last month it was revealed that a revamped and shortened Sevens World Series will finish off in Cape Town in December – giving the highly-rated venue an elevated status as the circuit’s final stop, rather than one of the season openers.
And just a week later World Rugby also confirmed that the South African-based company Megapro was to be the agency for World Cup Sevens 2022 – which will also be staged at the Cape Town stadium.
Given all the hype around the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in July and August, the Sevens announcements slipped under the radar.
However, that hasn’t stopped the Cape Town Stadium bosses from making some critical business decisions to enhance the experience of fans – if they are allowed to attend events.
The Greenpoint-based venue – the new home of Western Province and the Stormers – recently launched its Business Lounge membership.
The iconic Cape Town Stadium, with its 62 000 capacity, hopes the new hospitality offering – which follows global trends – will make the Sevens tournaments and other sporting events even more memorable.
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This shared-space hospitality experience is tailored to be flexible and aimed at the Sports Fanatic, the Business Networker and the Family of Fans.
However, it requires the government to give the green light for spectators to return.
South Africa’s National Olympic Committee will present proposals to the SA government next week and hope to make “a strong case for a safe and sustainable return of supporters”.
The first major event that could benefit from this is the British and Irish Lions tour that is scheduled for July and August, with plans for the Cape Town Stadium to host two matches – the opening tour match against the Stormers on July 3 and the second Test against the Springboks on July 31.
The organisers of the Sevens events will keep a close eye on next week’s developments, as they would like to start planning for full stadiums as well.
Steven Hunt, Megapro’s Sales Manager, admitted the return of spectators is an important component of their planning.
Hunt, who represented South Africa in 20-odd Sevens World Series tournaments, said the COVID-19-enforced spectator lock-out has resulted in teams and unions getting more creative and more involved in the social media market to generate exposure.
The retired BlitzBok also touched on the construction and renovations that are ongoing at the Cape Town stadium – especially the building of additional suites, including the newly-launched Business Lounge.
“Sevens revolves around spectators and the atmosphere in the stadium,” he told @rugby365com in an interview.
“To accommodate more people in suites would just add more value to the event.”
While the Stormers have started playing at the stadium – losing 33-34 to the Cheetahs last month and beating the Lions 44-12 last week – without spectators, Hunt hopes that by the time the Cape Town Sevens comes along in December he COVID-restrictions will have been lifted to allow spectators.
“It is good to see World Rugby is backing the fact that we will be back playing again soon,” said Hunt, who was born and Port Elizabeth where he attended Grey High.
“However, the question is if it will be behind closed doors or have a crowd.
“The beauty of Sevens is the fact that it is a game played with loads of fans, loads of energy and lots of excitement.
“The sooner we can get people into the stadium, the better it will be for the game.”
It makes next week’s SANOC presentation to the government all that much more important.