Cape Town - 100206 - Cape Town Stadium Rugby Festival - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Cape Town - In an aggressive bid to promote the use of Cape Town Stadium, as well as sport and tourism, the City of Cape Town is set to pay R6 million towards two international clashes involving the Springboks and Bafana Bafana.

For the first time in recent years, the metro will give the SA Rugby Union (Saru) R3m for the game against the Wallabies on September 27.

And although this game will be played at Newlands, the funding comes with provisos – suggesting that the city is smoothing the path for future fixtures at Cape Town Stadium, which is running at an annual loss of about R40m.

Garreth Bloor, mayoral member for tourism, events and marketing, told the mayoral committee on Tuesday that the city’s investment in the two events was part of its extensive offering for September’s Tourism Month.

“We’ve identified sporting events for Cape Town and we want to leverage each of the events to promote Cape Town during tourism month.”

According to the report considered on Tuesday by the tourism portfolio committee, the WP Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and Saru approached the city for financial support to host the Springbok versus Australia game.

The initial request was for R4.6m, linked to a rights package, but at a meeting in May, the city’s special events committee agreed that R3m would be disbursed to Saru. WPRFU agreed that:

* It would consider the endorsement and support of the Cape Town Tens Rugby Tournament.

* It would support the city’s bid to host the World Sevens and to help with delivering a local tournament as part of the bid.

* It would “favourably” consider the hosting of the Stormers and an internationally recognised side in an off-season friendly at the Cape Town Stadium.

* There would be a captain’s run – open to the public – at Cape Town Stadium in preparation for the Test match at Newlands.

“It’s our first investment into rugby and is part of our partnership with SA Rugby,” said Bloor.

He refused to be drawn into questions about the city’s ongoing discussions with the rugby unions about moving from Newlands to Cape Town Stadium, but the report stated that the R3m boost included the proviso that “the support of this event will assist with current negotiations between the city and WP Rugby for future events to be hosted at the Cape Town Stadium”.

Relations between the city and WP Rugby soured earlier this year when talks about the proposed relocation were suspended. A three-day workshop on the matter was canned when then-mayco member, Grant Pascoe, revealed that closed-door talks were being held to secure Western Province as the stadium’s anchor tenant.

WPRFU president Thelo Wakefield said then that it needed to consider whether WP Rugby could remain financially stable if it moved to Cape Town Stadium.

One of the concerns raised was the limited number of suites available at the stadium. However, the provision of more suites is under consideration as part of the plan to commercialise the stadium precinct.

Neither WP Rugby nor Saru could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The Castle Lager Rugby Championship game, which the city said was expected to be sold out, would be broadcast live to 186 countries with about 10 million viewers, making it an ideal opportunity for destination marketing.

Bloor said the city would also give R3m for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria, to be played at Cape Town Stadium on September 10.

The details of this investment still need to be referred to the mayoral committee for consideration, but Bloor said the money for both events would be used for logistics, extra law enforcement and other operational needs.

“This is part of Tourism Month, as well as our objective to bring big events to the city in order to position Cape Town as the events capital of Africa. In this case, our investment is split across two sports that pull in very sizeable crowds from an events and tourism perspective. Given the size and viewership of these two sports for the games that we are backing, this support is not inconsistent with previous commitments made by the city to sport and other non-sporting events.”

Danny Jordaan, president of the SA Football Association (Safa), said it would be “happy” with the city’s proposed investment, if approved by the council, but he knew of no such agreement as yet.

Jordaan said the cost of games differed. An international game – such as that against Nigeria – was easier because it was an official fixture and the visiting country would be responsible for travel expenses. It was the friendly games that could rack up the costs.

Bloor confirmed that the proposal for the breakdown of the costs had been submitted to Safa.

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Cape Argus