Change is in the air at Kings Park with negotiations under way for a move to Moses Mabhida stadium even as the Sharks snapped out of their losing streak by winning their last tour game in Australia.
The Sharks answered critics who claim there is a split between Afrikaans and English players by playing as a team and beating Western Force 23-13 in Perth yesterday.
While the team was focusing on getting their campaign back on track, businessman Terry Rosenberg, a non-executive director of the Sharks, told The Independent on Saturday that discussions with the eThekwini Municipality about a move from Kings Park to the Moses Mabhida were under way.
In August last year it was reported that eThekwini’s new city manager Sbu Sithole had raised the possibility of approaching the Sharks to reopen these discussions.
Talks between Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and former municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe failed in 2010 over the council not being able to offer enough of a financial incentive.
Although tight-lipped about the issue, Rosenberg said “we are open to all suggestions”. He cautioned though that “discussions are at an early stage with some large obstacles that need to be addressed”.
Such a move, first suggested by Sutcliffe, would mitigate the cost of operating the stadium for the city.
But it has been met with resistance from the Sharks, particularly over concerns that the new stadium would not be able to house the same number of suites as Kings Park, a major source of revenue. Across the road, they would have to be paying tenants.
Rugby commentator Dan Retief believes such a move would make sense but that Moses Mabhida would have to be made more rugby-friendly. The city would need to meet the Sharks halfway and allow it to be their home ground.
“Kings Park is by no means modern. Many suites do not have a good sight line. It’s not good for people with a fear of heights and Moses Mabhida is bigger,” he said. “But one team that can fill a stadium regularly, run a stadium and run events, is the Sharks.”
Former Springbok and Sharks captain John Smit takes over from Van Zyl as chief executive on July 1 with the task of turning the fortunes of the team around and attracting fans back to games.
In media interviews Smit has conceded that results have not been good enough and there was a need to start winning.
Retief stressed that the key to success for a winning brand is to have a winning team. “Everything else then falls into place.” - Independent on Saturday