The Ricoh Arena: Q&As

Why is the Club moving to the Ricoh Arena and why are you moving to Coventry?
Over the last ten years we have made no secret of our determination to find a permanent home we can call our own. It’s a move we believe is essential to guarantee the long-term success of the Club, both on and off the pitch. Our vision is to be the best team in Europe. Wasps are moving to a world-class stadium and building state-of-the-art training facilities, which will enable us to recruit some of the best players in the world. 

We need to control our own destiny, to give the Club the best opportunity to thrive as a business, which will support further investment in the squad.

Moving to our own stadium will give us financial stability and a solid foundation for world-class rugby to be played and enjoyed in world-class surroundings. This will be the most extensive club owned facility in world rugby.

This move breaks the mould of how rugby clubs operate. Through the thriving business already in place at the Ricoh, a multi-purpose event Arena, we anticipate having the highest turnover of all Clubs in the Aviva Premiership. In Europe, only Toulouse will have a bigger turnover. But this move is not simply about figures. This is not about making money; it is about not losing money. It is to ensure Wasps not only survives, but thrives for another 150 years plus. This move gives Wasps the stability the Club has craved for years. 

Over the past two years we have been extremely fortunate to have the support of a committed owner, who is a passionate rugby man and has the best wishes of the Club at heart. However, once again, we have been totally reliant on one person’s support. That is a precarious position to be in and has made us vulnerable in the past. This acquisition has broken the cycle of relying on one person to fund us. Through moving to the Ricoh, in the space of two years we have gone from the verge of bankruptcy to having secured our future. 

The facilities for our supporters and for travelling fans at the Ricoh surpass facilities seen anywhere else in the Aviva Premiership.  Supporters will be spoilt for choice for bars, food outlets and areas to socialise on match day and Season Ticket Holders will enjoy upgraded seating.

However please don’t think this was a decision that was taken lightly. We looked at a number of sites inside and outside London, but this was by far the best option for the long-term success of the Club.

Why can’t we move to a new site in London?
Naturally our initial search started within the London and M25 area. However after a thorough process over the past two years, it is clear that the Ricoh Arena provides by far the best option for the long-term success of the Club. It is a once in a life-time opportunity we simply could not overlook.

Nowhere in London would offer us the combination of a thriving business, ready to go, world class sporting and entertainment facilities and the space needed to build world class training facilities. This is the outstanding option from all the locations we have considered. To be the best team in Europe we need to have the best facilities – a move to the Midlands gives us more chance to achieve this.

The options in London would involve building our own stadium – which could have taken up to 10 years to achieve and even then planning permission could have fallen through, meaning we would be back to square one. We as a Club have been disappointed before, through the Booker Airfield project. We came to close to achieving our own home only for plans to fall through at the final hour, leaving our previous owner no choice but to walk away.

There is a scarcity of land in London to build the extensive facilities and infrastructure the club needs, from a stadium to training facilities. We also know how difficult the property market is. The road to self-sustainability is less risky away from one of the most expensive areas in the world.

Why can’t we buy Adams Park?
We have enjoyed a good relationship with Wycombe Wanderers during our stay in High Wycombe, however the ground is not suitable for our long-term requirements as a permanent home - it would need to be completely redeveloped. The site simply isn’t big enough. The infrastructure is not viable for what we need. The access is not efficient and there are no other revenue streams to rival what the Ricoh Arena offers.

Unfortunately attendances at Adams Park have not been as high as we would have wished, or as we need, to survive as a business in the professional era. We need a bigger footprint to be able to build attendances. The Ricoh Arena also has a capacity that will allow us to host the knock out stages of European Rugby in the future (15,000 criteria).

Why can’t we stay at Adams Park?
We run a high risk of going bust. It’s as simple as that.

Adams Park was always intended as a short-term solution. The Club doesn’t make enough money in High Wycombe for it to be sustainable - for every £1 spent by supporters at Adams Park the Club gets 15p.

Over the past 18 months our owner has absorbed almost £10million of the Club’s losses. We are losing approximately £3 million every year. We cannot continue in that vein if we want our Club to survive and succeed. 

Staying where we are would mean continuing to lose £3 million a year while awaiting planning permission elsewhere.  The green field sites we have explored have a low chance of success. On average, securing planning consent, building new stadiums and the infrastructure they require, takes 10 years to come to fruition. 

What were the options? 
Option 1 – Stay as we are, losing £3 million a year. Outcome - high risk of going bust.
Option 2 – Stay where we are but cut the squad budget in half to survive financially. Outcome – high risk of being relegated.
Option 3 – Find land in South East to develop - suitable sites are not available and there is a very high degree of risk associated with planning consent falling through. The London property market is difficult and the area of land the Club requires is scarce – to include a stadium, good infrastructure and access, training facilities etc. Redeveloping a site in London could have taken up to 10 years to complete and is reliant on planning permission being granted. 
Option 4 - Buy an existing stadium in London – they are rarely, if ever, available. 
Option 5 - Buy our own stadium which includes a thriving business and guarantees the Club’s long-term future with one of the best playing squads in Europe.
Having explored all available options open to us, nowhere offered us the combination of a thriving business, existing world-class sporting and entertainment facilities and the space needed to build state-of-the-art training facilities. 

Is this just about making money? 
This is about turning the Club into a sustainable business. The Club loses £3 million each year and is reliant on the financial support and goodwill of one individual. We have to break this cycle. The only clubs that don’t lose money have conferencing, banqueting and other revenue streams.

This move is breaking the mould for a professional Rugby Club. No other stadium will have the opportunities the Ricoh Arena allows us. The strength will be the combination of our parts – the conferences, music events, exhibitions. The whole business makes money, which allows us to invest into building our squad. World-class facilities on field will attract world-class players. World-class facilities off field allow us to invest in our team.

What do you say to the London & Middlesex based fans who have been loyal fans of the club for many years? 
We value our supporters who have backed us through thick and thin, particularly over a challenging couple of years, and we understand that this move will be disruptive. However, we will do everything we can to help our supporters join us at our new home. This will include free coach transport for Season Ticket Holders from designated locations in the High Wycombe and West London areas for the rest of the season, as well as an upgrade in your Season Ticket seat, an exclusive hospitality area for Season Ticket Hoders and free parking.

We would dearly love your support to continue and for Wasps fans to enjoy games at the Ricoh Arena. We realise this will be challenging for our supporters, but Wasps and Wasps fans have never been a club to shirk a challenge. That is the spirit of the Club. We understand supporters will feel passionately about the move, we have asked ourselves the same questions supporters are currently asking. We have to weigh up every difficult question with what is best for long-term security of the Club. I would ask our supporters to take a step back if they can and consider the positive opportunities this will give their team.

Our supporters are incredibly important to us, but I would also ask our supporters to consider the alternative. 18 months ago we were an hour away from administration, an hour from the Club we all love disappearing forever. It is only thanks to our current owner that we are here today. 18 months on, we have the most extensive facility in world rugby to enjoy and our squad will benefit from investment the Arena allows. 
We know this is not in London as our supporters would prefer, but the question we keep coming back to is this: “Would you prefer to travel further each fortnight to support a successful Club, or no Club at all?”

Why has there been so much secrecy about this move – couldn’t the Club have been more open with its supporters? 
We are sorry we couldn’t share more information with our supporters during this process. Our aim is always to be as transparent in our decision-making as possible. This was a very complex process during which strict confidentiality agreements had been signed. By publicly discussing the possibility, we could have jeopardized the opportunity. The alternative plans would have taken up to 10 years to come to fruition, if at all. 

At the time we launched our Season Ticket packages, this move was a mere possibility among many options being considered. We have been in a similar situation before with the Booker Airfield project, only for it to fall through. This option could have fallen through up until the day we made our announcement.

When will Wasps play their first game at the Ricoh Arena? 
The first game at the Ricoh Arena will be the European fixture between Wasps and Castres on 14 December 2014, or against London Irish on 21 December 2014. Until then we will continue to play at Adams Park.   

What are the rugby benefits to moving to the Ricoh Arena?
Our vision is to be the best team in Europe. Wasps are moving to a world-class stadium and building state-of-the-art training facilities, which will enable us to recruit some of the best players in the world. This move will ensure the squad will go from strength to strength. 

We can now afford to increase our coaching team and expand our support staff as well as appoint off field support to look after our players’ personal development. This move will ensure the squad will go from strength to strength. 

Will we lose anyone from the playing squad because of this move? 
We are sympathetic to any players for whom our move is not convenient. However, we are confident that any doubts about moving to Coventry and Warwickshire will be outweighed by state of the art training facilities, the quality of life in Warwickshire and the Club’s vision to once again be the best in Europe.

Will the squad still train in London?
The squad will continue to train at Twyford Avenue for the rest of the 2014/15 season, before a decision is taken on Wasps training facilities in Coventry and Warwickshire during the 2015/16 season. 

What does it mean for me as a Season Ticket Holder?
We value our supporters who have backed us through thick and thin, particularly over a challenging couple of years. We would dearly love that support to continue and for Wasps fans to join us at our new home.

We appreciate this is a monumental move. We understand the challenges and will do everything we can to ease the transition for you.

As a Season Ticket Holder you will have a far better standard and range of facilities to enjoy, including exclusive access to a hospitality lounge for the rest of the season. The facilities surpass anything seen elsewhere in the Aviva Premiership.  Supporters will be spoilt for choice for bars, food outlets and areas to socialise on match day. 

We have developed an exclusive package for our current Season Ticket Holders as a thank you for their support and loyalty.

Benefits and Incentives for Existing Adams Park Season Ticket Holders
Free return coach travel between designated areas in the High Wycombe area and the Ricoh Arena for all remaining matches this season.  
Free return coach travel between designated areas in the West London area and the Ricoh Arena for all remaining matches this season. 
Alternatively, if you want to travel in your own car, we will offer you a free car parking space at the Ricoh Arena so long as there are at least two people in the car for the remaining matches this season.
Access to an exclusive Season Ticket Holders Lounge where you can purchase drinks and hot and cold food.
For our first match you will also receive complimentary match day food
Season Ticket Holders will receive free food and drink vouchers in line with your Season Ticket package
Invitation to an exclusive “meet the players” event at the Ricoh Arena.
We will host an open day for Season Ticket Holders at our new home during November so you can view the facilities and this will be communicated to you directly.

Will this mean the season tickets will go up in price?
The move to the Ricoh will mean we can offer a broader range of ticket prices, which will allow you to get a similar seat at a lower price. For the remainder of the current season and to show you our outstanding new home we will upgrade all Season Ticket Holders to better category seats. For example, if you are a category 3 Season Ticket Holder at Adam’s Park you will be allocated seats in category 2 at the Ricoh Arena. 
Will Season Ticket Holders be refunded if they do not wish to watch the rest of the season at the Ricoh Arena?

We would love you to give this a go and join us for a couple of games so you can see for yourself what a fantastic home this will be for us all.

However, if you feel unwilling or unable to do so, we do of course understand and will provide a pro rata refund to any Season Ticket Holder who is unable to transfer their season ticket to the new stadium.

Tell me more about the Ricoh Arena?
You can learn more about our new home at www.waspsnewhome.co.uk

What are the transport links to the Ricoh Arena?
The stadium is less than one mile from Junction 3 of the M6 as well as being within easy reach of the M1 and M40.
London Euston is 55 minutes by train.
There are two train stations within 7 miles of the Ricoh Arena – Coventry and Nuneaton.
In addition, the Ricoh Arena will also have a new train station to be completed next year further improving access to the venue, with shuttle trains every 10 mins from Coventry Station directly to and from the Ricoh Arena
A free shuttle bus service from Coventry Station and Warwick Parkway station to the stadium will be provided on match days for supporters travelling by train.
There are multiple entrances/exits in use on match day and a traffic light system is also controlled on site to speed the flow of traffic out of the Ricoh Arena after a match or event.
2,000 car parking spaces.

Will Coventry City Football Club still play at the Ricoh Arena? 
We are delighted to see Coventry City back at the Ricoh Arena and this is where we want them to remain.  We look forward to building a long and fruitful partnership with the Sky Blues.

We play our home games on Sundays. The Sky Blues play their home games on Saturdays. It does not make sense to own a world-class sporting arena that is only in use for 16 days of the year. This is a multi-event Arena, which we would love to be used as often as it can be. 

For any football fans concerned about the effect of rugby and football being played each week, the pitch is reinforced. The Xtra Grass product is the same as is used at the Kassam Stadium for Oxford United and London Welsh RFC where there are no issues.

How will this move affect Coventry Rugby Club? 
We’re very keen to build a close relationship with Coventry Rugby Club and we’re currently exploring the possibility of running community programmes and player development schemes together.

We are holding positive conversations with Coventry RFC about ways in which we can build a productive partnership to benefit both clubs and their supporters. This is not a choice between Coventry RFC and Wasps – it’s about collaboration to make sure both Clubs thrive and help each other, building attendances for each club and giving supporters even more rugby to enjoy.

What will the Club being doing in the local community in Coventry?
Wasps will be committed to Coventry and Warwickshire and will work hard to embed themselves in the local community with a healthy programme of grassroots development. We see this move as an opportunity to play our part in developing rugby and sporting talent across Coventry and Warwickshire.

We have received some very positive support from the Coventry Community Sports Foundation for our ideas regarding community programmes in our new area.

How long is the new partnership with Land Rover?
The new partnership is a multi-year agreement that will set solid foundations for our commercial programme.

How much is the new partnership with Land Rover worth to the Club?
We do not disclose the value of our commercial agreements. 

Does the new partnership with Land Rover have anything to do with the Club’s decision to move to Coventry?  
No. This move to Coventry has been based purely on the opportunity provided by the thriving business at the Ricoh Arena and rugby opportunities in the West Midlands. We are delighted that Land Rover has since decided to become our new main partner, but the Land Rover partnership was agreed afterwards and had no influence on the Club’s decision to move to the Ricoh Arena. No sponsorship deal in rugby could do that!

When will fans be able to buy this season’s kit, which features the Land Rover branding, and will it be available to purchase online? 
The clean kit is available to purchase at the Kukri shop at Adams Park. The Club will provide a free service at Adams Park for any supporter who has already purchased Wasps home and away kit and wishes to apply the front of shirt sponsor branding retrospectively up until end of November 2014. 

I would like to find out more information – who can I contact? 
Please write to info@wasps.co.uk 
Alternatively please call 0208 993 8298