NEWPORT Gwent Dragons chief executive Chris Brown has targeted at least a 50,000 crowd for a Millennium Stadium double-header after the region signed up to playing a ‘home’ game in Cardiff for the next four seasons.
The Dragons will take on the Scarlets as part of the event on Saturday, March 30, with Cardiff Blues also hosting the Ospreys.
The derby day, which is being held in partnership with the Welsh Rugby Union, will take place for the next four seasons with the Dragons giving up home advantage against a west Walian opponent, with the Ospreys likely to be their opposition in 2013/14.
Dragons season ticket holders will NOT have to pay extra for tickets and those who have corporate hospitality at Rodney Parade will benefit from the same at the Millennium Stadium.
The profits from the double-header, which is being underwritten by the Union, will be split between the Dragons and Blues.
The Ospreys and Scarlets, who are both reluctant to make their fans travel large distances for ‘home’ encounters, will not directly benefit financially.
Last season’s encounter between the Dragons and Scarlets at Rodney Parade attracted a crowd of 6,897 and Brown, while understanding that some supporters may feel put out, is hoping the event in the capital will boost the region’s coffers.
“It was a really big decision and one that we didn’t take lightly,” said Brown.
“We had to weight up how our fans will feel about heading to Cardiff to watch the game and we were very mindful of our regular season ticket holders and those in hospitality. We had to take that into account and they will be well provided for here.
“If they use a box at Rodney Parade they will be able to use a box here and a season ticket holder will be able to get in here.
“The down side is that they have got to get to Cardiff but the up side is that they will get to see two games.
“We hope to get a financial boost but I believe it will be good for Welsh rugby as well as the regions that are hosting it.
“In order to make it work we have got to work towards building a 50,000 crowd and I am confident that, working together, we can achieve that.”
Tickets for the event will be £10 for under-18s and £25 for adults with a family ticket package (two adults, two children) costing £50.
WRU chief executive Roger Lewis is hopeful of matching the success of the London double-header, which kicks off the Aviva Premiership campaign every season.
“It has taken us five years to put this fixture together but I am confident it will be worth the wait,” said Lewis.
l Meanwhile, the Dragons will be without captain Lewis Evans for their RaboDirect Pro12 opener against Zebre on Friday evening.
The openside is still struggling with a calf injury and with Darren Waters out for at least six months that means Jevon Groves is set to be handed the number seven jersey.
Lock Rob Sidoli, Argus Dragon of the Year for 2011/12, also misses out through injury but should be back for next weekend’s away game at Leinster.
Dragons squad: D Evans, T Prydie, W Harries, A Tuilagi, A Smith, J Dixon, P Leach, L Robling, Steffan Jones, W Evans, J Evans, P Price, N Williams, Steve Jones, H Gustafson, S Parry, N Buck, D Way, A Coombs, A Jones, I Nimmo, J Groves, D Lydiate, T Faletau, H Stoddart.