Tickets for the Rugby World Cup games in 2023 could be as low as €20 if an all-Ireland bid for the event is successful.
Transport and Sport Minister Shane Ross also confirmed the State will foot the bill for upgrading stadiums around the country, which would have long-term benefits for sports tourism.
Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Sport, Mr Ross said legislation or other measures may be necessary to ensure the tournament would not be marked by large-scale ticket touting.
He was quizzed by TDs and senators about the rushed legislation for the €320m World Cup bid, which the Government claims was pushed through to underwrite Ireland’s interest in hosting the 2023 event.
Mr Ross said the Government only received correspondence from World Rugby in early April and the legal advice from the attorney general on May 4 was that express legislation was needed for the bid, which was passed this week in the Dáil.
Committee members asked about the expected costs of tickets for the games.
Mr Ross said it was hard to estimate and prices would be market-led. Projections estimate that hosting the tournament will make a profit. Some tickets could be as low as €20, he said.
“I’m not going to reveal any detailed figures,” said Mr Ross. “But some of the tickets will be as low as €20.”
Some €200m of taxpayers’ money has been committed and set aside to upgrade stadiums and training centres for the competition, if the cross-border bid wins.
Mr Ross told Solidarity-PBP TD Mick Barry there would be temporary upgrades for stadiums nationwide and up to 40 training grounds and clubs would get “legacy benefits”.
Such venues would get repeat or return visits, said Mr Ross, praising the benefits of sports tourism here.
He was asked by Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy about ticket touting and measures to be taken to prevent this if the bid proves successful.
He revealed that World Rugby and European football governing body Uefa had been in contact with the Irish group making the bid.
New ways to crack down on ticket touting are being considered, he said.
“It would be reputationally damaging to the State if there was ticket touting on a massive scale,” said Mr Ross, adding that fresh legislation may be looked at.
The Government estimates the operational and tournament costs would be €200m and €120m, respectively, but the benefits could top €800m if the bid is successful.
There are risks involved but the Government has taken out insurance for acts of terrorism or otherwise, the committee heard.
“We think it is a risk well worth taking,” said Mr Ross.
A lack of hotel space is also expected to be addressed by then, particularly in Dublin.
The games would take place in September and October 2023 and there would be an estimated 12.2m bed nights available for around the 7m required, he said.
The winning bid to host the Rugby World Cup will be unveiled in November, with France and South Africa also in contention.
Separately, Mr Ross said Ireland should consider bidding for the Olympic Games, while officials will examine a suggestion by senator Frank Feighan for the State to support the North’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which had originally been intended for Durban in South Africa.
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