Coventry & Warwickshire

Wasps' first home game at Ricoh Arena expected to attract record 27,000

Wasps players training at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry
Image caption Wasps held a training session at the Ricoh Arena - the club's new home in Coventry - on Tuesday

Wasps Rugby Club has said it is expecting a record crowd of about 27,000 people to watch the first game at its new home in Coventry on Sunday.

The Premiership team announced the controversial move from High Wycombe to the Ricoh Arena in October.

The attendance would be an all-time home record for an Aviva Premiership Rugby fixture, Wasps said.

The move has proved controversial but several High Wycombe-based fans said they understood the reasons behind it.

"This would break the Aviva Premiership all time record for crowd attendance at a home game fixture," said the club, in a statement.

Higher attendances have been recorded for clubs playing Premiership games away from their home stadiums - most notably London sides, including Wasps, playing at Twickenham.

"Our average crowd attendance at Adams Park was around 5,000, so we are already over the moon at 27,000," the club said. "Hopefully that number will rise with four days still to go selling tickets."

The capacity of the Ricoh is 32,609.

Media captionAndy Goode says Wasps are ready for the Ricoh Arena opener

The club put the sales down to Coventry's "strong appetite for rugby in a city which has rugby in its DNA".

"Coventry Rugby Football Club has such a rich heritage and has enjoyed great success over the years," the statement added.

"We have been overwhelmed by the support of the local community."

About 23,500 tickets have been sold and 3,500 school children invited to the game against London Irish.

Nick Eastwood, Wasps chief executive, said the club was "absolutely thrilled".

"When we started out, if you'd said we'd get to the mid-teens, we would've been absolutely delighted so now that we're well north of 20,000, we're absolutely thrilled."

Wasps player Andy Goode, who is from Coventry, said he was excited to be playing at a world-class venue which would now be the "biggest and best rugby ground in the Premiership".

Image caption Wasps played their final match at Adams Park against Castres Olympique on Sunday

In October Coventry councillors supported a deal to sell the authority's share in ACL - the company that runs the Ricoh Arena - to the Premiership rugby club, but there was an angry response from many fans on Twitter.

One supporter, James Higson, tweeted: "What do you suggest we do now then? 6 hour round trip to Coventry every weekend? Total disgrace, I'm no longer a Wasps fan."

However, Wasps fan Ken Wyatt said that although many fans were angry when the move was first announced, people now felt more comfortable with it.

"It's been explained properly now," he said. "People would rather Wasps found a decent home than went out of business."

He said although he himself was not travelling to Coventry for the match, several fans were.

Coventry City FC supporters group Sky Blue Trust earlier expressed concerns about Wasps taking a stake in the stadium, but later said it was a "new start" and the trust would seek a "good relationship" with its new landlord.

The city already has a long-established rugby union club, Coventry, which was formed more than 130 years ago and currently plays in National League One.

But Ann Lucas, leader of the Labour-run council, has said the deal "would not have happened if it threatened the future of the Sky Blues or Coventry Rugby Club".

Image caption Coventry Rugby Club - pictured playing against Sale in 2000 - is long-established in the city

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites