Wasps Rugby Club announced a move to Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena. The club based in London, will move to the Coventry area in the next 18 months but will start playing at the Ricoh Arena in December. The plan is to build or acquire a training facility in the Coventry area, moving the whole club out of London. Wasps bought a 50% stake in the company that owns the Arena, with a 250-year lease. The fee is reportedly around the £20 million mark and understandably many fans are unhappy with this decision. Although the club has had financial difficulty in the past and have been looking for a permanent home for over a decade, taking the club over 80 miles out of their home city surely cannot be the answer.
A lot of fans could potentially boycott matches, similar to Coventry City’s boycott of the move to Sixfields, last season. It’s not like the club were getting attendance figures that warranted a move either. They attract between 5,000-7,000 fans at Adams Park, so moving into a 32,000 all seater stadium does seem a bit odd and a bit of a waste.
It is extremely unlikely that the club will attract anywhere near a capacity crowd. The Ricoh is usually about a third full when Coventry City play and that is after just returning after a year absence. Wasps don’t seem to have a massive fan base looking at attendance figures and the Coventry Rugby Club barely attract 1,000 fans per week, suggesting a lack of interest perhaps for rugby in the City. Moving the club miles away into a stadium it looks like they wouldn’t even fill a quarter of, does seem very strange.
This move also affects the football club already playing there, Coventry City. The League One outfit had just recently agreed a move back to the Ricoh after the club and stadium owners fell out causing the club to move to Northampton, albeit temporally. The stadium was originally built for the football club and you can tell that by looking around the stadium. Sky Blue seats, a club shop outside, the club crest on the front and a Jimmy Hill statue gives the stadium a Coventry City feel about it. But with Wasps moving in, the arena could be renamed the crest could be removed and the seats could change from Sky Blue to yellow. It would feel like being a guest in their own home and would lose that Sky Blue feel and probably lose fans aswell.
Overall this move seems very odd indeed. Odd that the Coventry council would agree to sell a share to a rugby club outside of the city, which greatly affects its own football club. Odd too that Wasps would move 80 plus miles from their home, to a stadium much too big for their fanbase. The Rugby club might aswell be renamed the Coventry Wasps.