Rugby: Sports Hub-SRU tie-up signals shared vision

SRU president Low Teo Ping and Sports Hub CEO Manu Sawhney with the ball they had signed at the National Stadium. The cost-sharing venture could be a model for promoters staging their events at the venue.
SRU president Low Teo Ping and Sports Hub CEO Manu Sawhney with the ball they had signed at the National Stadium. The cost-sharing venture could be a model for promoters staging their events at the venue.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Sports Hub partners SRU for 7s series, with joint marketing and revenue/cost splitting

After facing scrutiny for its high rental fees and sparse calendar for this year, the Sports Hub has linked up with the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) in a cost-sharing partnership, paving the way for how promoters could stage their events at the Kallang showpiece.

Believed to be a first-of-its-kind tie-up between a venue and a rights holder in Asia, the two parties will kick things off by jointly promoting the upcoming leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

This will be held from April 16-17 at the National Stadium, which will also host three Super Rugby games for Japanese upstart Sunwolves from March.

The period will be marketed across the region as Rugby Season at the Sports Hub.

"We are no longer a hiree of a stadium but rather, a joint-venture partner - this is a hard-nosed business relationship," SRU president Low Teo Ping said at a press conference yesterday.

Sports Hub chief executive Manu Sawhney added: "We will share the risks and responsibilities, leveraging off each other's strengths.

"We have a shared vision to make Singapore the most successful leg on the circuit."

SERIOUS BUSINESS

We are no longer a hiree of a stadium but rather, a joint-venture partner - this is a hard-nosed business relationship.

''LOW TEO PING, SRU president, on the move.

As part of the deal, sources said the Sports Hub has agreed to waive its $1.5 million fee for renting the stadium for at least one week. It will also receive 25 per cent of ticketing revenue for the Singapore leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

In exchange, the SRU will release selected hospitality suites back to the Sports Hub for its corporate clients. It is believed that the two sides will also share profits from the stadium's food and beverage stands, which typically goes into the Sports Hub's coffers.

Low said the event would be more successful with the partnership than without it, pointing to its total budget of $6.7 million and a break-even target of two years.

The 70-year-old explained: "There's a lot of money at stake and our reputations are on the line too.

"Partnering with someone we trust, the SRU is confident of delivering a world-class tournament to fans in Singapore."

The Sports Hub has moved to better engage national sports associations after facing public criticism for its threadbare calendar this year.

The Straits Times reported last week that the Asia Masters Athletics Championships will be held at the National Stadium after all, despite having to turn their back on initial plans because of high costs. This after organisers Singapore Athletics and the Sports Hub worked out a deal that would lower costs.

The Republic is among 10 host cities for the 2015-16 World Rugby Sevens Series, which kicked off in Dubai last month.

After a 10-year hiatus, Singapore will host the popular series for the next four years, with an option to renew for a further two.

Organisers are aiming for a daily crowd of 26,000, with nearly 10,000 tickets sold so far. The target audience extends beyond rugby nuts, as seen with the event's "Rock, Ruck and Rumble" theme to combine rugby action with live music acts as well as a family-friendly zone with fringe activities.

The SRU is said to have begun talks with nightclub operator St James Holdings to host a party at the stadium on the final day, as well as a music carnival along Club Street.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Tie-up signals shared vision'. Print Edition | Subscribe