Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Kingspan Stadium roar? Ravenhill's new name sparks row

Supporters Emma and Hannah Topley cheer Ulster on at Ravenhill

It's the latest sports stadium to be renamed after a sponsor.

But it seems Ulster Rugby fans will continue to call the home ground Ravenhill, rather than the new name – Kingspan Stadium.

The renaming comes after Ulster Rugby's new 10-year sponsorship deal with the Kingspan Group, a building materials company with headquarters in Kingscourt, Co Cavan, which has been a sponsor of the team since 1999.

It follows a growing trend among English Premier League teams of changing the title of their home grounds to that of their sponsors.

Holywood man Shane Todd, the comedian and actor behind an Ulster Rugby character named Mike McGoldrick, said the change from Ravenhill to Kingspan Stadium was a "necessary evil" as it will "generate funds for the province", but he does not thinks fans will use the new moniker.

"I don't think people will call it that," he said. "I can't imagine people saying 'Do you fancy a wee night out at Kingspan?' People will continue to call it Ravenhill."

On Twitter, Ulster Rugby fans said they understood the financial reasons for the move, but many were unhappy their beloved Ravenhill was to be the latest victim of "commercialisation".

Steven Orr from Belfast said: "New stadium equals a need for money, but I still think it's a bit crass. I can't see Kingspan Stadium sticking. Sadly, money talks."

Tim McCullagh from Bangor said: "Fiscally it makes sense, outside income, savings on match tickets. Fans will still call it Ravenhill irrespective."

Jacqueline Lees said: "Another victim of commercialism. It will always be Ravenhill to fans."

Stuart Bailie from Newtownabbey said: "Great for them to get this deal, but I can't see anyone calling it anything other than Ravenhill! The Kingspan roar?"

One Twitter user said: "Definitely NOT! What happens in 10 years, do we call it the Sugar Puff Stadium if they sponsor?"

Another added: "No way. Stupid idea. Will always be Ravenhill."

Ulster Rugby chief executive Shane Logan said: "This is a landmark deal and one that will have considerable benefits for all of rugby in Ulster."

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