Rugby League World Cup could net Leeds ‘up to £12m’

Could Headingley be a host for the next Rugby World Cup.
Could Headingley be a host for the next Rugby World Cup.

Hosting games at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup could net Leeds’s economy up to £12m, according to a council report.

Leeds is already expected to be one of the tournament’s host cities and is set to submit more detailed plans to rugby authorities on how it can make a success of the tournament.

A report going before Leeds City Council next week will look at the impacts hosting matches would have.

It lists both Headingley and Elland Road stadiums as possible venues, claiming that, depending on the package of games a city receives, the economic benefit could be anywhere between £6m and £12m.

It also lists legacy improvements, claiming Leeds will be able to bid for part of a £10m fund for artificial pitches and clubhouse improvements at grassroots levels.

However, it listed costs for hosting, as organiser RLWC2021 require a rights fee of around £250,000 for matches involving the top teams.

The report states that investment from the council will be needed, adding: “Rugby league is in the DNA of Leeds and there is considerable expectation that Leeds would play a high profile role in the tournament. RLWC2021 clearly indicated that there is a requirement of significant cash input in addition to the value in kind as part of the overall rights fee calculator.

“The final bid is ambitious and the financial contribution required will require a

combination of cash and in kind support in excess of £250,000.

“The actual contribution will ultimately depend on the outcome of the bid so at this stage it is only possible to indicate the maximum financial exposure to the council and partners.

“High-profile games will require greater financial contributions and the figures outlined reflect this.”

Tournament bosses are currently analysing bids, and will make a final announcement on host cities in January 2019.

The report concludes: “Leeds has a rich history in rugby league and has fabulous infrastructure to support delivering the event. Emerald Headingley stadium will have had its stadium improvements completed and together with Elland Road provide excellent venues that can host games between 20,000 and 36,000 capacity.

“The city hotels and wider sports facility provision also gives us one of the best possible bases for teams taking part and staying in the city region.

“Given the status of the city there is weight of expectation that Leeds submits a strong bid for the RLWC 2021.

“A strong, ambitious bid would help cement our reputation as a world class host, accumulating the benefits of hosting accordingly. Both Elland Road and a brand new Emerald Headingley stadium can feature as the centre piece of our bid and are totally committed to helping the city stage a tournament to remember.”

The Rugby League World Cup has run since 1954, and was last held in England in 2013. Headingley Stadium, Huddersfield’s John Smiths Stadium, The Shay in Halifax and Hull’s Craven Park were all used as venues for matches that year.

Leeds, Huddersfield, Castleford and Hull were also host cities or the 2000 tournament.

The last Rugby League World Cup was held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The current champions are Australia.