FAI sets premium for best seats

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It may sound like a dodgy disco in the Midlands but admission to the FAI's new 'Vantage Club' will require a lot more than 10 quid and a smile.

By Jason O'Brien and Daniel McDonnell
Irish Independent, Friday, September 19, 2008

It may sound like a dodgy disco in the Midlands but admission to the FAI's new 'Vantage Club' will require a lot more than 10 quid and a smile. The association yesterday officially released prices for its premium seats and corporate boxes at the new Lansdowne Road stadium, promising to "bring corporate hospitality in Ireland to a new level". It has certainly brought it to a new price high.

The cheapest seats available, located behind the goals in the south stand, will set fans back €12,000 for the 10-year duration. The most-expensive seats, on the halfway line, will cost €32,000. Prices for the 33 corporate boxes are available on demand. Those affected by the credit crunch, presumably, need not apply.

"There are 33,000 millionaires in this country, and there's a database of 80,000 people that we're chasing," FAI chief executive John Delaney said at the launch yesterday. "We only need 3,000 sales because on average our research says that each buyer will purchase three to four seats. We'll do it."

"It makes us easily afford our capital commitment into the project. From 2016 onwards we get to see the real dividends from it, the way we have done our financial business model around the stadium plan."

The FAI has hired global heavyweight ISG - which handled similar sales at Wembley and Barcelona's Olympic Stadium - to push its corporate product during a worsening economic climate. Its chief executive Andrew Hampel has told the FAI that they will sell 80pc by the time of the first game in August 2010, but believes that 100pc can be achieved. "We took in €15m worth of orders in the last month and the last month has not been a great month," he said.

The IRFU recently sold its hospitality packages at Lansdowne for approximately €170m, but concerns remain that the FAI will not be able to match that figure. Some of its premium seat prices are vastly more expensive than the IRFU which sold 10,000 at €15,000 each last year.

"I don't want to get into comparisons with the IRFU. They have done their business very well, the way they have financed it, and we have gone our way," Mr Delaney said.

The IRFU sold the largest corporate box - which holds 50 people - on a five-year lease for €850,000. There was some speculation that the same box would be put on the market by the FAI for over €1m. The football organisation declined to release the prices for its corporate boxes yesterday, but did confirm that two have already been sold. It is understood that Eircom have bought one of the boxes. The 50,000 all-seater, €410m development is due for completion at the end of April 2010.

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Article published by kind permission of Irish Independent

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