Munster Rugby in motorway call as season ticket sales dwindle

Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald has called for a motorway to be built between Cork and Limerick.

Munster Rugby in motorway call as season ticket sales dwindle

Mr Fitzgerald believes the difficulty of getting to games at Thomond Park — particularly for those travelling from the larger population base in Cork, is having a big effect on poor attendance.

Last week, Munster Rugby revealed a €800,000 deficit for the year ending June 30, 2013, and the province is projecting another loss, this time of €600,000, for the current financial year as the Munster Branch AGM was told of a €650,000 drop in season ticket sales as one of the primary contributors to the shortfall.

Some of that drop was offset by a rise in individual match ticket sales of €315,000, but Munster’s RaboDirect Pro12 gate income was still down against budget, delegates were told last Thursday.

“I think now the European elections are over and our MEPs are elected for the area, with the politicians we have, there must be a campaign to connect the last two cities in the country that are not connected by motorway,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“It is something we have been constantly pushing and asking people to campaign on. It is hugely important. Ease of access and travel means people are shooting up and down to Dublin from Cork and Limerick spending their money when they could be doing it within the province.”

Mr Fitzgerald said transport issues between Cork and Limerick meant people already struggling economically were reluctant to commit to season tickets when it was easier and cheaper to watch games on television.

“If you look across all the facts and figures given out by Ticketmaster — whether rugby matches, football matches, concerts, whatever they are — since the economy has slipped, there is a much later buy-in time into tickets,” he said.

“It’s down to the last week. If you talk to people in the catering or accommodation business they will tell you the same — all bookings are coming much later.”

The Munster chief executive also welcomed a new broadcasting deal for the league next season with Sky Sports and their early commitment to set kick-off times on Saturday afternoons.

He also urged terrestrial rights holders such as TG4 and BBC Northern Ireland to follow suit in order to avoid the current situation where clubs have been hamstrung by irregular time slots such as late as 8pm on Saturdays or clashing with Ireland matches, as was the case when Munster played Cardiff Blues in Limerick shortly after the end of the Six Nations clash with Wales in Dublin.

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