Fans to pay more for Sevens tickets
Fans will have to pay $130 more for a Hong Kong Sevens ticket next year as organisers face rising costs in running the event.
A ticket for the three-day tournament will now cost $880, a 17.3 per cent increase on the last Hong Kong Sevens in 2004, but down from the $1,000 for last year's World Cup Sevens sellout at the Hong Kong Stadium. Tickets for children aged 12 or under have risen from $250 to $300.
The increase is the first since 1998 and Allan Payne, executive director of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU), said the hike was mainly owing to increasing number of players and officials. 'The event costs more because more players are coming ... and we need to get more referees,' he said.
Payne said the number of players and officials on each team had grown from 12 to 15 since 2002 as the rise in international tournaments means larger squads.
'Another reason is because we bring in more long-haul teams. The cost for [bringing teams] from Russia, Europe and South Africa is more expensive,' he said, adding that hotels, flights and other costs had also gone up.
Payne was confident the increase would not affect ticket sales, as 'it's still good value'.
Hong Kong Sevens manager Beth Coalter said: 'We've tried to absorb the cost but it has been increasing since .' She said the tournament - to be held from March 31 to April 2 next year - fitted perfectly into the world calendar as it is two weeks after the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the Six Nations Championship would have been completed.
'We took those events into consideration,' she said. 'There is already more interest from the UK.'
Coalter said the demand for corporate boxes was high and she expected a sellout before the end of the year.Tickets will first be sold through HKRFU member clubs, while early sales to the public will be available at a Sevens Festival at the Hong Kong Stadium on December 10, featuring a Sevens-like party, with mini rugby and matches involving women and schools.
Coalter said she could not reveal the number of tickets available for the public because it depended on demand from clubs.
She stressed that unlike the World Cup last year, there would be no allocation for the International Rugby Board so tickets for the public would be considerably more this time.
'Last year we had 4,000 tickets for the public and it's going to be substantially more this year,' she said.
The traditional 'Long Lunch', which sets the tone for the Sevens, will be at the Grand Hyatt on October 7. Two rugby balls - one with the autographs of the four World Cup-winning sevens captains and the other with the five 15s captains - will be auctioned.