Saturday’s Super Rugby final that the Lions will host at Ellis Park against the Crusaders is going to benefit not just the rugby franchise, but the entire city of Johannesburg, according to CEO Rudolf Straeuli.
A sell-out crowd of more than 60 000 has already been confirmed as the Lions look to complete their resurgence by beating the most successful team in Super Rugby history and becoming only the second South African side to win the southern hemisphere franchise competition.
“Hosting the final is going to be a huge benefit for everyone who finds value at Ellis Park. It’s not just the union that benefits, it obviously also helps the Ellis Park Stadium Pty and it’s a huge marketing opportunity for the Lions company and a great honour to host the final.
“There’s the money from the tickets and hospitality and some extra reward in the form of the prize money. None of that was budgeted for, so it’s a bonus.
“But it’s also a big positive for Johannesburg, the whole city, and especially the Ellis Park precinct, all our neighbours. We are really blessed to be able to host such great events, we’ve had the All Blacks here before and the Test against France this year was also a big success,” Straeuli told The Citizen yesterday.
The Lions have not only established themselves at the pinnacle of South African rugby, but have also had to manoeuvre themselves out of troubled financial waters in the last five years.
“You can’t take anything away from the team because they are our flagship, and our juniors have done very well too with our Craven Week side being the best and our U21s and U19s winning their competitions last year. But a few years ago we were a business that was having retrenchments. But some staff took pay-cuts and simplicity has been key to our operations.
“We don’t have a big staff for the big area we have to manage and we have had to cut our cloth according to our needs. But there’s a really positive mood,” Straeuli said.