Roc Nation boss believes there's a solution to SA Rugby's cash crunch
South African franchises need to start thinking differently about the game-day experience if they are to fill up the massive stadiums in the country.
After two years of COVID-enforced lockdowns, the Sharks, Stormers, Bulls and Lions are bracing for the possible return of spectators.
However, with most first-class games being plastered on television they will need to come up with something very different to lure spectators back to the stadiums – all four of whom has a capacity of 50,000 or more.
Roc Nation President Michael R. Yormark believes for SA franchises to fill up their stadiums they will have to take risks and take their blinders off.
The game-day experience will have to change dramatically.
Yormark said South African teams also need to be a ‘little more sophisticated’ in driving revenue streams.
The opening of stadiums, to sell tickets and corporate sponsorships, are key to generating revenue streams – something that dried up in the COVID-laced last two years, which left most SA franchises on the brink.
He suggested that finding “alternative revenue streams” is imperative to paying better salaries and retaining talent in the Republic – discouraging them from giving in to the lure of the Pound, Euro or Yen.
“You have such great talent in South Africa,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “I know a lot of players are not leaving for the so-called ‘experience’.
“Who would not want to live in Cape Town? Who would not want to live in Durban? Who would not want to live in South Africa?
“They are leaving because of the money.
“I think we can solve that problem.”
The Roc Nation boss suggested the franchises need to work a bit harder to ‘create a buzz’ around games and that includes using the players to generate interest – much like American sports teams do in football and basketball.
He suggested teams should prioritise making it a ‘great experience’ for the fans – not just focus on the game itself.
“They need to understand you don’t want just middle-aged people coming to the matches,” he told @rugby365com.
“We want to reach the next generation of fans.”
Yormark said young boys and girls want something that is ‘exciting’.
“They want heroes,” he said, adding: “They want to embrace players.”
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The MVM blueprint
He used the Sharks as an example of a franchise where the players are very accessible.
“Post-match they take selfies with the fans, they sign autographs, they give away jerseys.
“They make the experience of coming to a Sharks match a special one.
“Every team needs to start doing more and more of that.
“Hearing Ed [Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee] saying they want to make it the biggest party, [may be] a big goal, but achievable.
“The good thing is, Ed [Coetzee] and the Sharks are thinking that way and that is the first step.
“You have to think differently.
“I am not sure how financially secure any of these clubs [franchises] in South Africa are.
“To some degree, many of them are a little broken, from a financial standpoint.
“Why would we continue to do things the same way?
“To get different results we have to take a little risk and take your blinders off. We have to do things differently.
“We need to have a mindset of: ‘How do we grow the game?’
“We must create this incredible experience, so that people will get out of their house, go to the stadium. There must be a desire to be at that live event, because it is so special.
“It must be full of energy and full of passion.”
He added that private equity is a must for South African franchises if they are to solve the financial cash crunch.
“MVM has created a template for this,” Yormark said of the international investment consortium, spearheaded by Marco Masotti and includes Yormark and other big names in the consortium – Vincent Mai (Chairman and CEO of Cranemere LLC), Marc Lasry (Founder of Avenue Capital and owner of the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks team), Doug Cifu (CEO of Virtu Financial, Inc. and owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers team), Robert D. Haswell (Founding Partner of Dominus Capital) and Dominic Silvester (CEO of Enstar Group Limited).
Roc Nation is assisting the Sharks with the global expansion of their brand.
“What MVM is doing with the Sharks now – the investment spending, the support they are getting from the community – fans know there is a stable environment.
“They know the owner will do everything possible to retain their best players.
“What is really important at the beginning of every season, is that a fan has hope that their team can win.
“What keeps them engaged is: ‘I believe this is the year!’
“That is the hope that every fan wants.
“When they don’t have that hope, that is when they back off and do something different.
“They have to believe in the ownership, the front office and the players. They have to believe in the blueprint for success for that organisation.”
Yormark added that he believes the Sharks are already making great progress down that road.
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