Irish greyhound racing is experiencing a resurgence of popularity as the industry saw some impressive performances throughout its operations nationwide. Overall attendances in 2011 saw an increase in numbers going through the turnstiles of 756,561 which was an increase of 22,632 over the figure in 2010 whilst attendances through the gates in all IGB owned tracks for 2011 (542,559) were up 6.93% on 2010 (507,383). The IGB delivered an overall cash surplus level of €3.15 million up 7.6% compared to €2.88 million in 2011. Savings from operational effectiveness programs significantly outweighed higher input costs like energy and insurance. Significantly prizemoney grants will be increased by 3.5% on an overall basis in 2012 compared to 2011 levels. Furthermore an additional €469,150 has been allocated to general stadium and operational improvements and over €1.1 million has been earmarked for two significant greyhound stadium developments which will be announced at a later date assuming certain criteria are met.
A greater focus on online marketing has led to restaurant pre-bookings up 17% on 2010 rising from 163,617 bookings up to 192,874 in 2011. Star performers here were Shelbourne Park up 16% and Harold’s Cross up 21%. Over 25,000 people booked their Christmas events which was a record for this period and shows the ability of the industry to compete within the wider entertainment space and proving to be a fantastic alternative for a fun and social night out at very attractive prices.
Profits from the Tote came in at €3.06 million due to more combination package deals within the Stadium coupled with the introduction of a new performance management system with star performers here being Shelbourne Park, Cork, Lifford, Mullingar, Tralee and Thurles. Through 2012 it is the intention to continue to drive this part of the business aggressively and largely by the use of new technologies which will further help drive these operations and growth is expected.
The IGB Brand continues to grow in recognition and it is now seen as a very value led, customer centric entertainment option and a great place to spend a night out. As an organisation it also developed in terms of how we innovate in marketing with close to 20,000 people booking online via our portals and our new iPhone app which was launched in 2011. Ireland's flagship greyhound stadium, Shelbourne Park, really bucked the recessionary trend to show a very impressive economic and operating performance for 2011. An increase of 6% in overall attendances with a 5% increase in sponsorships reflected the increased popularity of greyhound racing in Shelbourne Park. A huge increase of 16% to 62,829 reflected the highest number of restaurant bookings since 2008 which also included 8,581 bookings during the December period up from 5,778 from the previous year.
CEO for the IGB Adrian Neilan said: "2012 is a year in which we will plan to further develop as an organization and an industry. Our recently announced SIS deal will operationalize the strategy of developing an export of our content and product worldwide as well as our considerable know-how and expertise. We will be making a number of extremely important announcements in the coming months regarding some very exciting revenue generating additions to our business which will also reinforce the fact that the Irish Greyhound industry is the world leader in this sector. Greyhound Stadia continue to be a great attraction for visitors to Ireland with close to 40,000 tourists visiting us during their holidays and we intend to further increase that number. Our IT systems allow us to deliver a highly customized approach to any visitors to the extent that programs and betting guides are translated to any language required.
"Our industry supports over 10,300 whilst contributing over €244 million to the exchequer and whilst proving to be cash neutral to the exchequer which is a fact that this Government recognise. Our industry and product is acknowledged to be the best in the world to the extent that many countries in Europe and beyond have been looking at our business model, regulations and governance structures for their sports and tourism industries" he continued.
The capital expenditure for 2012 mentioned above of €469,150 will focus on stadium upgrades, regulation and Tote developments and IT projects aimed at improving market share. New IT systems for customer relations management, sales and on-going development of the IGB website will also happen.