The emblematic Charleroi Spiroudome is no longer making money. Its managers are therefore looking to review their economic model in order to diversify the activities offered by one of the country's largest stadiums. Three years ago, basketball represented 80% of the infrastructure's activity, "in five years, we are aiming for only 20% of revenue coming from basketball," acknowledges Eric Schonbrodt, the general manager who took over the stadium in March 2018.
The Spiroudome, founded in 2002, is very impressive on the inside with its 6,400 red seats arranged around the pitch. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be working in his favour. Indeed, despite the Charleroi club having the most supporters, this significant competitive advantage is not allowing basketball players to make a profit, as "it does not yet fill the stadium every match night. There are usually between 3,000 and 4,000 people per match," says Corentin Wilmot, Head of Marketing and Digital Communication at the stadium.
Belgian basketball is now creating losses for the stadium, "the only revenues from basketball come from ticket sales and the partners. Ticket sales are increasing again but are still too low to meet the costs involved with a professional team," says the director. The situation has improved since the arrival of Gabriel Jean, the new Chief Executive Officer, three years ago, but the loss carried forward is still more than €4.7 million.
In view of this situation, the Spiroudome must reinvent itself and the managers have given themselves five years to turn it back into a profitable structure. However, there are many possible projects. The 5,000 square metre stadium is located in the second largest city in Wallonia; it was well designed during construction and has the advantage of being fully adaptable to whatever event is taking place there. The stadium has been open for all kinds of activities since the arrival of the new Managing Director; visitors can now attend concerts, shows, seminars, general assemblies and more, and this diversification has increased with the appointment of the new Director. "Ideally, we could even imagine renting the stadium out every day of the year," says the Communication Manager, "when I see how quickly we can adapt," says Eric Schonbrodt, "it's not impossible. A few weeks ago, we hosted a very big event for the Charleroi Bar on Saturday evening. The evening ended at six in the morning. On the Sunday, we hosted the final of the Belgian Cup, with 5,500 spectators.”
A large number of additional spaces are also available in the dome. "The boxes can accommodate about a hundred people, while another more recent building extension can host receptions for up to 1,200 people. There is also a room that can be split in two on the first floor, and for the past two years we have had a business restaurant, open only at lunchtime," says Eric Schonbrodt. Three years ago, basketball represented 80% of our activity and the managers now want only 20% of our income to come from basketball within five years. The only disadvantage of this reorganisation is that it is almost impossible for players to train on the pitch. However, the director points out that the dome will never be without sport.
Management has recently hired staff to find more unexpected customers, among other things. A UAV race will soon take place on the site. Moreover, due to the current enthusiasm for e-sport among young people, the managers see it as a new way to reach this audience. Last December, the dome hosted one of the first major video game events in Belgium, in collaboration with Proximus. The Spiroudome, joining forces with the football club Sporting de Charleroi for the organisation, will host an international competition of the famous Counter Strike game in May. The event will even have prize-money of 100,000 euros.
New branding is currently being prepared and, to conclude their repositioning, the next major project will be image work. The dome is now showing its determination to become a real company, presided over by Jean-Jacques Cloquet, elected manager of the year 2018.
Source : l'Echo