The table below shows, for example, the attendances of Munster’s games against Connacht pre- and post-redevelopment of Thomond Park in the then Celtic League. Musgrave Park held all league games during the 07/08 season due to the reconstruction of Thomond Park.
It could be said that the significant jump in ticket sales for Thomond’s reopening in 08/09 could be based on Munster’s Heineken Cup triumph the previous season. However, attendances declined the season after Munster’s Maiden victory in the competition in 2005/2006 (This is including capped players playing for Munster remaining largely unchanged.). Therefore, that reasoning is to a certain degree is inconclusive. Leinster matches are the exception to the trend as at least 23,000 spectators have attended the games since the redevelopment with the amount of capped players ranging from 6 – 16 during that period. Games against Edinburgh and Ospreys follow a similar pattern to Connacht. Both playing in Thomond Park and Musgrave Park, viewed in modest numbers prior to returning to the expanded Thomond, only to see an inexplicable rise in ticket sales.
Musgrave Park has seen an increase in attendances of 54.4% with an increase of 21.1% in internationally capped players in the matchday squads over the past 9 seasons. Thomond has seen a 169.45% increase in the same period while there has been a 12.2% decrease in capped players. Keeping in mind, Thomond Park only sold out three games in the previous three seasons leading up to the expansion. With overall increases in attendees, the statistics further devalues the importance of playing high profile players.
In recent times, fans seem to consider where they watch Munster rather than who is actually wearing the famous red jersey. The point must be made that the fan base has significantly differed before and after the expansion, for league games anyway. If it is not the main factor, it is certainly a notable one. Munster fans may now see Thomond Park as a theatre where its atmosphere is just as important as seeing the players they adore.