Vision 2022: Rugby event to fill 55,000 seats at National Stadium
Veteran sports administrator says he will have an event capable of drawing 55,000 fans by 2022
It is often mentioned in local circles that football is the only sport capable of filling the 55,000-seater National Stadium.
But, Rugby Singapore chairman Low Teo Ping is confident of filling out the Sports Hub's centrepiece with a rugby event within the next five years.
"Rugby is no different (from football), I am confident of doing it in the next few years," said the veteran sports administrator, at the sidelines of a HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens media event at the Pan Pacific Singapore yesterday.
The 71-year-old announced that about half of the tickets for the Singapore Sevens have been sold.
The organisers hope to attract 29,500 spectators on each day of the event (April 15 to 16) at the National Stadium, surpassing the two-day average of 25,000 fans at the same venue last year.
The 2016 edition was the first of a four-year deal with World Rugby to host a leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. Sixteen teams, including Olympic champions Fiji and powerhouses New Zealand and South Africa, will compete in the tournament.
Two categories of tickets - the $300 Platinum passes and $50 Category 2 tickets - have been sold out, and the organisers will start a campaign targeting families and post-secondary students after the Lunar New Year.
Other than carnivals and fringe events, such as the South-east Asia Sevens tournament, organisers are also planning to engage professional baby-sitting services, to attract parents with kids to the event.
However, expanding the Singapore Sevens' capacity further would require a shift in strategy, Low said.
He pointed out that the upper tier of the National Stadium, which he referred to as level six, is segregated from the lower tier, which seats about 30,000 people.
"Once you cross the 30,000 level (for spectators), you're looking at level six and a whole new set of dynamics kick in," said Low, who is also the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) president.
He said that extra manpower and costs will be involved for security personnel and ushers, and the spectators may be too far away from the action on the field, or the fringe activities on the stadium concourse on level four.
Low said: "We don't want to end up spending so much money to get so little... We'd have to relook at the kind of entertainment to provide."
He also revealed to The New Paper that a foreign investor has pumped $1 million into Rugby Singapore, in a profit-sharing partnership.
The investment will help Rugby Singapore - a wholly-owned entity of SRU - with its cash-flow matters, even though Low said it is already profitable.
The aim in the near future, he added, is for Rugby Singapore to be SRU's main source of funding.
Low said: "I would say that in the next five years Singapore Rugby Union can actually wean itself off the government grant.
"If they want to give it to us, sure, we are more than happy to. But we have to be fair about the whole (government funding) issue."