A £725million financial boost for the economy of Wales has been delivered as a direct result of the location and operation of the Millennium Stadium, according to the findings of a far-reaching independent survey carried out for the Welsh Rugby Union.

The income for Wales amounts to around £105million a year since 1999 when the stadium opened as a unique, multi-event venue in the heart of the capital city.

The economic impact survey says more than nine million people have entered the stadium since it opened, helping it become the most visited attraction in Wales and one of the top ten in the UK.

Today the Welsh Rugby Union, which owns and manages the stadium, is calling on the benefits for Wales to be recognised and rewarded at a financial level which will ensure it can make an even bigger contribution to the lives of people all over Wales in the future.

The statistics in the report make a bold statement on the importance of the Millennium Stadium to Wales.

  • £105million generated each year for the Welsh economy.
  • £88million of that figure spent in and around Cardiff each year.
  • That income helps support the equivalent of 2,400 jobs each year.
  • More than nine million visitors to the stadium in seven years.
  • It attracts far more visitors than any other tourist attraction in Wales.
  • That makes the Millennium Stadium one of the top ten tourist attractions in the UK.
  • But, the WRU pays out more than £900k a year in rates.

The WRU says the report findings are not being published to seek any handouts but will be used as an argument for the benefits the Millennium Stadium brings to Wales to be recognised.

The Union believes that will help the Millennium Stadium create an event strategy which will reap even greater rewards by generating more wealth for Wales.

The Union is launching a dialogue with important stakeholders to establish what would be a fair and realistic financial recognition of its iconic status and financial contribution to the Welsh economy.

This would help the WRU build the event programme of the stadium even more to make it an even greater asset for the Welsh economy and boost the resources available to develop rugby in Wales.

The WRU is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government and Cardiff Council to reflect the stadium’s contribution at a level already and rightfully acknowledged for other iconic buildings like the Wales Millennium Centre and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

The Millennium Stadium is not annually grant funded, operates commercially independently, and currently contributes more than £900,000 a year in rates to the city of Cardiff .

The survey for the WRU carried out by experts from Strategic Marketing and Econactive looked at how many people visit the stadium, where they come from and what they spend in and around Cardiff and the surrounding areas when they are in Wales.

The Strategic Impact survey is published today in a 58 page document which is being delivered to the Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff Council plus other local authorities in Wales and major stakeholders in the stadium operation.

The Welsh Rugby Union says a fair reflection of its iconic and financially beneficial status to Wales would be to remove its rate burden entirely to allow a proper level of investment to capitalise on its presence.

The priority of the Welsh Rugby Union remains to ensure the Millennium Stadium continues to flourish and develop in its location at the centre of the city.

The Group Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, Roger Lewis said:"The stadium is now recognised around the world as an iconic and modern image of Wales.

"We all know it is as the heart and soul of Welsh rugby but the magnificent Joe Calzaghe unification world title fight at the weekend proved how it works so well as a multi event stadium.

"It truly is a magnificent asset which the Welsh Rugby Union is proud to own and operate for the good of rugby and the benefit of the nation as a whole.

"The last few weeks have been a great example of its versatility with The Police in concert followed by the magnificent Monster Jam car crushing spectacular and then the big fights.

"In the next couple of weeks Wales will play the Republic of Ireland at soccer in the stadium and a week later there’ll be a sea of green and gold parading through Westgate Street to watch the new rugby world champions, South Africa, face Wales for the inaugural Prince William Cup clash.

"The stadium is a jewel in the crown of Wales and the UK as a whole and we believe it is fair for that status to be properly recognised and acknowledged.

"We are not seeking any unfair advantage just a fair recognition of what the stadium contributes to the health and development of our economy.

"Currently the Welsh Rugby Union holds all the risks and the liabilities while much of the reward is enjoyed by the wider community."

Expert advisors associated to the survey say there are a variety of economic options open to the WRU in order to fulfil its aim of maximising income in order to ensure rugby remains at the heart of our communities in Wales and continues to define us as a Nation.

The clear and favoured option is to align the stadium’s development to Cardiff Council’s strategic plans for the development of the city centre.

That could be achieved by investment in WRU owned land immediately around the stadium entrances onto Westgate Street by developing conference facilities, hotels, bars, restaurants and possibly even a rugby or hall of fame museum.

The Welsh Rugby Union believes its commitment to aligned and mutually beneficial economic strategies should be clearly recognised and rewarded for the benefit of everyone who follows Welsh rugby.

The report pinpoints the Millennium Stadium is a unique multi-event stadium in that it has a removable pitch and any event booked is guaranteed to take place whatever the weather because of the closing roof.

Economist Dr Calvin Jones of Econactive said: "The research has been extensive and the findings clearly establish the Millennium Stadium as a major contributor to the wider economy of Wales.

"The headline figures within the report are all measurable and provable because we erred on the side of caution in all the statistics we have identified within the data.

"The economic focus of the Welsh Rugby Union is clearly to achieve maximum impact from the Millennium Stadium and that will enrich the financial benefits it delivers to Wales.

"That impact can only be fully achieved if the Union’s robust marketing and event planning strategy is aligned to a fair and proper reflection of its worth to the city.

"Having studied the figures I can understand the WRU’s frustration with the current balance and the debate on how to redress that is clearly an important one for Wales."