On Saturday, Wales host England in the second week of Six Nations rugby. Fans from all over the country will be coming down to support their team… but how will this influx affect the businesses in the centre of Cardiff?
After thrashing the Italians 33-7 in Rome last weekend, Wales will be hoping to do the same to England come Saturday. The showdown between the two teams is always one of the more fiery fixtures in the Six Nations, both on and off the pitch, and attracts huge crowds – a godsend for pubs and the like.
But such events are not always easy to manage. In 2015, the first game of the Six Nations tournament kicked off at the Principality Stadium against England. Unfortunately, the game was marred by fan violence and drunken behaviour on the streets around the stadium. Because of such incidents, a number of businesses surrounding the stadium that are not such big fans of these… fans.
The City Arms is located directly opposite the gates of Principality. It’s a favourite for those who don’t have a ticket but still want to hear cries from inside the stadium while watching the game. And maybe have a drink before and after. The pub manager says they will get some rowdy people on game day, particularly if the game is against England. Customers can get very drunk very quickly, and the high tension and emotions can lead to a very loud atmosphere.
The City Arms is a large building, and it doesn’t serve hot food, which allows all the staff to focus on serving drinks. Their staff are trained for such events, and so can serve lots of people, fast. For a few hours of dealing with tricky customers, the manager reckons, it’s all worth it, as game days tend to lead to huge profits for pubs and bars.
Nevertheless, some other central businesses are less fond of the masses that come down upon the city. JokeShop.com, opposite Cardiff Castle, can get some unwanted visitors throughout game day. “Lads come in here to buy big hats or inflatable swords or stuff like that. Which is fine, obviously, but they don’t make us as much money as big items like costumes,” one customer says.
“The sort of people who could buy costumes, on the other hand, won’t come in if the shop is filled with excitable rugby fans. Young children and families tend to be put off if there are too many people inside.”
Troutmark Books is an independent bookshop located in The Castle Quarter Arcade, out of the way of the main shopping streets. The owner says: “We actually do quite well on Saturdays, even if there is a game. Because of our location, I suppose we avoid the tourist fans.” The stadium isn’t too far away from the bookshop, but because of its secluded location, it’s generally people who are out enjoying the city that find it.
“Because so many other people come into town on a matchday – just to experience the atmosphere, maybe have lunch somewhere – then it means there are more people to come and buy books!” Families and couples are likely to come through the Castle Quarter Arcade to have lunch at the Pizza Express nearby. And the more people attracted by eating venues, the higher the footfall for independent stores along the way.
These businesses are all in close proximity to the stadium itself, so they are all within the area that can be impacted by the thousands of travelling fans.
While the Six Nations isn’t appreciated by everybody, it can certainly do a lot for local businesses. Whether it’s the customer base owners want or not, there’s no denying that thousands of people turning up to the city centre can be overwhelmingly good for shops.
And people are likely to stick around longer after a good result. So let’s hope the boys give us a good game this Saturday!