Hong Kong Sevens

HKRFU opt not to raise Sevens ticket costs

Despite surging costs, HKRFU opts to retain present levels until 2015 but warns there will have to be strict controls on expenditure

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 4:31am

Prices for Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tickets will remain unchanged until 2015 despite the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union grappling with costs of staging the tournament and developing and maintaining facilities for a growing rugby population.

The HKRFU revealed at its annual meeting that total net assets climbed to a record HK$273 million in 2012-13, up from HK$237 million in the previous year.

Most of the increased revenue stemmed from the Sevens, but tickets will remain at HK$1,500 for adults and HK$150 for under-12s. It will be the second successive year that prices have stayed unchanged. In 2011-12 they went up 20 per cent.

"We normally revise our prices every second year and it is due for consideration again. But I believe that due to the economic conditions, there will not be an increase and we will stay at the same level for another year with a price hike only in 2015," said Grant Jamieson, HKRFU's director of finance.

Jamieson warned that a close watch would have to be kept on controlling expenditure, which for the first time had increased more than revenue.

"We made a net operating surplus of just over HK$41 million but increases in revenue were offset by increasing costs ... as a result of maintaining first-rate facilities and hosting [the Sevens]," Jamieson said.

"Our revenue increased year-on-year by 11 per cent but at the same time our expenditure increased by 22 per cent ... We have to be mindful of the increasing costs of staging the Sevens."

Revenue was HK$163.6 million (up from HK$146.8 million) mainly due to incremental increases in net subscriptions from members, corporate boxes and sponsorships, and revenue from the controversial new North Stand. This temporary structure would not be in place next year, said Jamieson.

"The North Stand did not contribute much to our revenue and we won't continue with it as the feedback we got from the public was not favourable."

Jamieson said a healthy net assets figure of HK$273 million didn't mean money was sitting idle. This sum is made of a general reserve of HK$146 million, an investment revaluation reserve of HK$24 million and a facilities fund of HK$103 million.

"We are not sitting on a huge sum of money doing nothing. Yes, we have HK$273 million in total net assets but almost HK$103 million of this has been invested back in the community," he said.

About HK$30 million of the facilities fund has been committed to five projects, including redeveloping the grounds at KGV School.

"We face a growing demand for facilities every year and it costs a huge amount not only to fund new projects but also to maintain the existing ones," he said.

The HKRFU is under increasing pressure to provide facilities to meet the rising demands of mini-rugby and grass-roots programmes. Last season the number of mini-rugby clubs rose to 20 and there were more than 4,700 registered players aged 4-11 (up from 4,295 in 2011-12, and 3,913 in 2010-11).

"At the end of the day we depend on the Sevens to fund all our activities," Jamieson said. "But costs of staging [it] have also gone up significantly. We are a victim of our own success."