Tickets for Ireland's two upcoming Six Nations matches against England and France at the Aviva Stadium are some of the most expensive for any sporting event ever held here.
Joe Schmidt’s side get their tournament defence underway on Saturday when they meet England at the Aviva Stadium with category 1 tickets priced at €115 and category 2 at €105. Premium offerings are €150 while category 3 tickets for both games are €85 and category 4 are €65. Schoolboy/girl tickets are priced at €25 while there are a very limited number of restricted view tickets ranging from €32.50 to €57.50.
The 2011 Europa League final at the Aviva Stadium is the only match in any sport that has been held in Ireland to have exceeded this year's Six Nations prices when category 1 tickets for Porto's win over Braga were priced at €135.
In 2006 tickets for the final day of the Ryder Cup at the K Club were priced at €130 but those for the other tournament days – Friday and Saturday – were €100.
Last year the IRFU broke the €100 barrier for category 1 and 2 tickets for the first ever time for the November international against the All Blacks which was the scene of Ireland’s historic first home win over New Zealand. On that occasion category 1 tickets were priced at €112 and category 2 at €102.
Ireland play at home to England and France every two years in the Six Nations and, since 2013, tickets for these games have increased every year. Six years ago category 1 tickets were priced at €90 before increasing to €95 in 2015, €105 in 2017 and €115 in 2019 – an increase of just under 28 per cent for a period in which the inflation rate in Ireland measures 1.6 per cent.
When contacted by The Irish Times with a query as to how many tickets there are in each of the various categories, the IRFU responded saying that they could not release the information as it is “commercially sensitive”.
However, the seating map for the Aviva Stadium shows that the majority of space in both upper and lower tiers of the east and west stands are taken up by category 1 seats costing €115.
Only small sections at the very back of the upper tiers in the east and west, as well as the first few rows pitchside behind both posts, make up category 4 while the rest of the seats are divided between category 2 and 3.
For instance, a ticket in the upper tier of the east or west stand in the very last block beside the smaller Havelock Square end will still set you back €115.
The Six Nations is the primary revenue-driver for the IRFU, generating around 80 per cent of the organisation's revenue for the year, according to chief executive Philip Browne when he spoke to The Irish Times Inside Business Podcast last year. Ticket prices reflect that, particularly for the cycle every two years when Ireland have only two home games and they are arguably the biggest two opponents in England and France.
Last year the most expensive of Ireland’s three Six Nations home games was against Wales with premium tickets priced at €125, category 1 tickets at €95, category 2 at €80, category 3 at €65 and category 4 at €50. For the Scotland game tickets were €115, €85, €75, €60 and €45 respectively while the win over Italy was the cheapest of all with tickets priced at €115, €75, €65, €50 and €40.
This year’s two home games represent a €15 - €25 increase on last year’s most expensive match, depending on the category.
The IRFU did not respond when contacted by The Irish Times as to why ticket prices had increased and if there were plans for them to continue increasing but, speaking to The Irish Times last year, Browne said that careful consideration goes into the pricing of tickets which is based on various factors.
“It’s supply and demand,” he said. “We set our ticket prices by looking at a range of events that are happening in Ireland and in Dublin whether it’s concerts or other sporting events.
“So, we don’t come up with a price in isolation, we look at the market itself and what the market can bear and what we think it’s worth. The proof is in the eating of that particular pudding – we’ve had full houses last autumn, we’ve had full houses for the Six Nations as long as I can remember. That’s really important to us because it’s not only about generating the revenue it’s about having full houses.”
While there has been plenty of talk recently about the GAA increasing prices for the two All-Ireland finals to €90, that figure is still €25 less than a category 1 ticket for either of Ireland’s upcoming matches and is also the first increase that the GAA has made since 2011.
2019 Six Nations ticket prices
For games versus England and France
Category 1: €115
Category 2: €105
Category 3: €85
Category 4: €65
Restricted View - Premium and Category 1: €57.50
Restricted View - Category 2: €52.50
Restricted View - Category 3: €42.50
Restricted View - Category 4: €32.50