Sevens organisers face new stumbling block
By NAZVI CAREEM
A FRESH row has erupted between Sevens organisers and controllers of the new Hongkong Stadium after yesterday's first meeting of the 40,000-seater facility's Board of Governors.
Hongkong Sevens organisers will contest a $15,000 per day surcharge on each of their expected 100 temporary corporate boxes during the tournament on March 26 and 27, 1994.
This was ratified by the Board as official policy for all stadium hirers, who also will be required to pay minimum rental charges of $150,000 per day, or 20 per cent of the ticket sales, whichever is higher, to the Urban Council.
The temporary boxes will be located at the lower concourse level, below the middle tier containing the 50 plush executive suites.
Although the stadium rental charges will not effect the Union as much as they will the Hongkong Football Association, the levy for temporary boxes constitutes a significant increase to the Sevens' loyal patrons.
Previously, the Union charged patrons a basic fee of $65,000 for each box without having to pay any surcharge to the Urban Council.
Union chief executive officer David Roberts said: ''We were led to believe that the boxes would cost $15,000 for both days or a percentage, whichever was higher.
''Now they are saying we must pay that amount for each day. That represents almost 50 per cent of the basic cost of a box. That is uneconomical and unacceptable.'' Roberts added that the Union would continue to seek access to the 50 executive suites despite stadium policy preventing them from doing so.
Board of Governors chairman Ronald Leung Ding-bong said: ''There are 50 executive suites. One of them will be given to the Urban Council the other 49 will be put up for hire by large corporations on one, two or three-year periods of tenancy.
''The executive suites will therefore not be available for hire by any promoter or user of the stadium.'' Roberts agreed that the Union faces an uphill battle to secure any of the executive suites, which will be put up for sale in September.
''Our sponsors would be extremely disappointed not to have access to premium seating at the executive suite level.
''We will have to have further discussions on this.'' The nine-member Board of Governors also includes Sir Brian Wolfson, chairman of Wembley PLC, whose Hongkong company Wembley International have been hired to manage the stadium.
The executive suites have been the main issue between the Union and Wembley. After a long stand off, the two parties last month came to an agreement where Wembley outlined their policy for the Sevens in written form, to be endorsed at yesterday's Board of Governors meeting.
Leung, however, would not say if Wembley's Sevens proposal was discussed at the meeting.
The cost of executive suites have yet to be finalised, but it is expected to start at around $600,000 for one-year contracts.
Said Leung: ''The exact charges have not been discussed. If, when they are put up for sale, they are over-subscribed, the costs will be higher.
''They will differ according to position, location and to the period of tenancy.'' Companies hiring out suites will have ticket-free access to 30 seats in their box throughout their tenancy.
Any extra seating would require extra charges.
Tenants can also sub-let their suites to other companies, but only after consulting Wembley, who will impose a sub-letting charge.
Director of Urban Services, Heider Barma, stressed that the Urban Council has full confidence in Wembley, whose parent company in London are said to be in financial trouble.
He said: ''Wembley are not here to reap profits. They were selected as professional managers of the stadium after an extensive international trawl.
''Their financial bid for the stadium was the most modest and their retainer is very much performance-triggered.'' ''The London company and Hongkong company are different.''