Kings set to return to NMB Stadium
Kings chairman Rademan says venue will be PRO14 base
After playing their past five PRO14 matches at the Madibaz Stadium, the Isuzu Southern Kings are set to return to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium next year, EP Rugby Union president Andre Rademan said.
Earlier this year, bosses of the Kings and the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA), clashed over the signing of a new anchor tenant agreement, which resulted in the Kings changing venues.
“There is a tenant agreement that must be signed and on that we will return,” Rademan said.
These two sides came into this Guinness PRO14 match after very different starts. Ulster have taken two close-fought wins over Scarlets and Edinburgh, whereas Southern Kings were still searching for their first victory.
“I must say the university was very good to us and it will always be an alternative venue.”
Asked if he was positive about the finality being reached on the tenant agreement, Rademan said: “We will go back. It is just a matter of time and that will be the base of the Kings. But we also want to take the games to other stadiums like the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele.
"We may also take a game to the people and there may be a fixture in East London. There are also other ideas that we are busy with that are in the planning stages.
"The city and the mayor are still busy with the tenant agreement.”
The Kings train at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium B field and their administrative staff are also housed there.
The Kings host their first home game in 2019 against the Cheetahs on January 19.
So far, the Kings have won only one of their opening 10 matches, and the games have been poorly attended.
Their biggest crowd of the season was 5,063 fans who attended the home game against Ulster on September 16 at the NMB Stadium.
The attendance figures for their other games at the Madibaz Stadium were: versus Glasgow (3,160), Scarlets (2,473), Leinster (1,142), Connacht (3,207) and Benetton (1,459).
When the Kings return to NMB Stadium, they will expect bigger crowds because the venue is more accessible.
We want to take rugby matches to the peopleAndre Rademan, EPRU president
The biggest crowd to watch a Kings match this season was the 7,529 crowd that turned up to watch them play at Parc y Scarkets at Lllenelli in Wales.
Last season 2,836 suppirters watched the Kings play Ulster at the Wolfson Stadium, and there were 6,318 fans at the game against Munster at Outeniqua Park in George.
Meanwhile, road map and time frames have been put in place for a big-money deal that could see a business consortium take control of the Kings. EP Rugby bosses and the consortium met for four hours on Sunday as the parties thrashed out details of the R45m bid.
This was one of a series of meetings that have taken place regarding the buyout which will be a lifeline for rugby in the province. “Our meeting went very well. There is a road map going forward and there are time frames in place," Rademan said.
"We should have finality very shortly but I can’t say anything further."
Kings coach Deon Davids is hoping that a deal can be struck as soon as possible so that new funds are made available to buy new players and assistant coaches.
This year, the Kings have won only one of their opening 10 Guinness PRO14 matches.
The team are now on a break and will resume their season with an away match against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on January 5.