How Roland-Garros is financially offsetting the two-year pandemic

How Roland-Garros is financially offsetting the two-year pandemic

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at Roland Garros,

The story was told to us by a colleague. When he wanted to unwind at the end of a long day, our journalist friend ordered three spritzes at the bar located just across from the Philippe-Chatrier court. Price of this peer-to-peer tour: 48 euros, without peanuts or olives. After verification, the cocktail is not even mixed on the spot but is served from a ready-made bottle and can be found for 20 euros in stores. But at Roland-Garros the cup costs 16 euros. Therefore, it is better to plan wide to avoid finishing empty pockets in two seconds.

More than anywhere else in France, inflation here reaches peaks. Espresso is 2.80 euros, chips are 7 euros, keyring goes up to 10-12 euros. And the must of the must, the Roland-Garros panama, the famous white hat that is worn and usually offered to VIPs, reaches 95 euros. Crazy prices but that the public, who has already paid dearly for their place (minimum 30 euros), reluctantly accepts.

The Roland-Garros panama costs 95 euros
The panama at Roland-Garros costs 95 euros – F.Launay / 20 Minutes

“It seems expensive to us but we are not very surprised”

“I paid 7.50 euros for two coffees. It’s too expensive. It is even more expensive than Eurodisney. We feel that we have been cheated a bit, but we come anyway. It was my birthday present”, says Alice, who came from Nantes to attend a night session.

On average, a Roland-Garros spectator spends more than eight hours in the venue and spends 80 euros in the official store where a derivative product is sold every two seconds. A great business that does not surprise Alexane in view of the target clientele. “The event is still quite fancy and clearly not accessible to everyone. We are lucky to be able to afford it”, says the young woman who came to see the women’s semifinals.

Roland Garros 2020 balls are sold in the store... in 2022
Roland Garros 2020 balls are sold in the store… in 2022 – F.Launay / 20 Minutes

The price of rarity for one of the biggest sporting events

Temple of French elegance, Roland-Garros has always cultivated this elegant side. In Paris, it’s clearly the place to show up in late May-early June when you’re VIP or well off. With this transmitted brand image, prices skyrocket. But for sports marketing expert Virgile Caillet, Roland-Garros simply pays the price of rarity.

“Compared to what we pay for a traditional program, it may seem above average. On the other hand, if we compare it to what it is, that is to say something unique, Roland-Garros is rather at the bottom of the Grand Slam average. It’s cheaper than Wimbledon, for example. We must understand that we are in a rare event. There are only four Grand Slams in the world, including one in France. Roland-Garros is therefore part of the category of major international events. And inevitably, as we say in marketing, everything rare is expensive”, insists the expert.

The public in the halls of Roland-Garros
The public in the corridors of Roland-Garros – AFP

86% of the federation’s budget comes from Roland-Garros

As a result, nothing is too good or too expensive at Roland-Garros, which is clearly the French Tennis Federation’s source of income. 86% of the FFT budget comes from the income of the famous tournament. A Roland dependency that allows, in particular, to help the clubs and leagues of the federation throughout the territory.

“Any margin generated does not go to a shareholder. It allows the tournament to develop and feeds the various gears of the federation to the licensees. We must not forget that we have the cheapest license in French sport”, recalls 20 minutes Stéphane Morel, deputy general manager of the tournament.

The portion of fries is 7 euros at Roland-Garros
The fries ration is 7 euros at Roland-Garros – F.Launay / 20 Minutes

295 million euros of turnover in 2022, an absolute record

Of the turnover of Roland-Garros, a little more than a third comes from television rights. They are followed almost equally (20%), ticket sales, associations and hospitality. Then comes merchandising, which represents just under 10%. Figures on the rise worldwide in 2022, an already historic year with 295 million euros of revenue generated.

“This is a record edition from the economic point of view. With the establishment of ten night sessions we received 150,000 more people, that is, more than 600,000 spectators. This is historic in terms of ticketing. Economically, it allows us to catch up with part of the last two difficult years”, continues Stéphane Morel.

“It is a new cycle that begins”

With the Covid and the health restrictions at Roland-Garros, the FFT lost 90 million euros in 2020 before almost breaking even in 2021. It is not easy when you have to repay at the same time the 400 million euros contracted to renew the center track. But the return of the happy days at Roland made it possible to relaunch the ATM.

“It is a new cycle with a new stadium, with night sessions. There are still things to improve like the flow of spectators to reduce queues. But we are very confident in the future. I sincerely believe that we have caught up in certain aspects with the other Grand Slam tournaments”, rejoices the deputy general director of the Fed.

Roland-Garros still does not have pandemic cancellation insurance

Even if the tournament hasn’t taken out pandemic cancellation insurance yet unlike Wimbledon did in 2020. “I challenge anyone to find pandemic insurance now or else it now costs the same price as billing. Insurance companies don’t do that anymore (smiles). We are insured for cancellation but for risks other than the pandemic, such as Dante weather conditions, for example,” explains Stéphane Morel, returning to the precedent of 2020.

“It was not a strategic error. Other years we had full-risk cancellation insurance, including the pandemic. But these are contracts that we renew every year. And when we wanted to take it in 2020, the pandemic had already started. More than ever, Roland-Garros crosses its fingers so that no epidemic comes to break the momentum recovered at the economic level.

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