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    Sharks plan stadium upgrades to bring fans back to Kings Park

    2019-07-23 13:21

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - Some of the results didn't help, but the Sharks struggled to get sizeable crowds through the Kings Park turnstiles throughout the 2019 Super Rugby season. 

    They weren't the only ones. 

    It is an issue facing all the tournament's franchises, with the problem extending to New Zealand and, particularly, Australia. 

    With crowd attendances dropping everywhere, Super Rugby has reached a crucial stage in its existence with plans to revert to 14 teams in 2021 now confirmed. 

    If the long-term future of the tournament is to be secured, then those 14 franchises must come up with methods and techniques to ensure that there are more spectators in the stands for home matches. 

    It is, perhaps, the biggest challenge moving forward, and it is one that 39-year-old Eduard Coetzee is fully aware of. 

    The former loosehead prop has been serving as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) at the Sharks for the last two seasons, but he has now been promoted to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to replace the outgoing Gary Teichmann. 

    "There are definite challenges, but there are no new ones," Coetzee told Sport24 over the phone on Monday. 

    "Gary and I have worked together, and he is a fantastic man. He has mentored me in the last year and I worked under his supervision to get the background and the skill."

    Coetzee confirmed that there were numerous plans in place to give Kings Park a revamp that would help facilitate a better stadium experience. 

    "It's about creating an environment where people have fun and feel safe," he said.

    "We've got to treat people unbelievably well for them to come to the stadium. From the moment they look for their parking, it's got to be a world class experience.

    "If your team loses, the experience must have been of such a high standard that you want to come back."

    While local franchises are competing with a challenging and unique South African economic climate, they are also up against SuperSport. 

    "We need to realise that consumer behaviour has changed, and the way people consume sport has changed," Coetzee said.

    "We've got an amazing product with DSTV where SuperSport probably offers the best coverage of ruby in the world. We are competing with that, so the live sporting event becomes something that people have to enjoy.

    "Next year we are having a huge drive to develop our season ticket areas to upgrade the toilets and food and beverage offering."

    There are also plans to develop an in-stadium kids entertainment area that Coetzee says will be the biggest of its kind. 

    "Those types of things will be unique to Kings Park," he said.

    "Our business is no different to any other business.

    "You've got to live within your means. It is no different to a home budget or family expense. You earn, and you can only spend what you have.

    "My main aim is for the Sharks to be successful on the field and also financially stable. It is a tough environment."

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