How ANZ Venues Prepared For 2022’s Blockbuster Return

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Claudelands Oval is pictured making its concert debut with band SIX60.

While entertainment and sports fans stayed locked in after March 2020, major venues in Australia and New Zealand were formulating strategies for when they returned.

Some upskilled executive teams, some teched-up and others focused on patron experience.

“For us it was really reigniting the passion for live music, com-ing together to experience it
again and reminding fans these were not what they could get sitting at home,” said Danielle Bleazby, directory of venues at the Melbourne Olympic Parks precinct.

These included special initiatives on arrival, broader food and beverage offerings, and pre-show  and game activations.

They ranged from photo opps with a fire-breathing effect before KISS shows and the Rod Laver Arena’s rooftop bar, the Upper Deck, transformed into a festival-inspired wonderland with DJs and offerings from Japanese restaurant Mr. Miyagi and cocktail bar The Evereigh, while sporting events included hoop shooting, player signings, and DJs and roving musicians.

A branded Winter Gigs of nine sideshows by Splendour In The Grass international acts across the precinct’s arenas drew 70,000.

The 14,820-seat Rod Laver Arena reported to Pollstar 80,189 tickets sold and gross of $5.54 million in the eligible period (Aug. 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022). 

The three biggest concerts were Robbie Williams, The Kid LAROI and Tyler, The Creator.

Each played multiple shows, to between 12,000 and 13,000 a night, with Williams’ two dates filmed for his 2023 biopic “Better Man.”

Bleazby said the arena would in 2022 match the 2018-19 financial year’s stubs of nearly 700,000.

With crowds returning “in full force” and catering/security staff drop-off rate dropping from 30% to 40% to 10%, and a full pipeline of acts, 2023 and 2024 promises to be a golden period for Melbourne Olympic Parks’ arenas.

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When Hamilton City Council’s H3 group decided to turn Claudelands Oval into an outdoor concert venue last year, “It was very much a blank canvas when the idea first came about,” noted general manager of venues, tourism and major events Sean Murray.

 “The beauty of a large outdoor space like this is you aren’t constrained by the four walls of a traditional indoor concert venue so this gave us unlimited scope to play with.”

The venue made its debut with a Feb. 27 show by SIX60 to a 25,000-strong crowd.

Claudelands Oval became fourth most successful outdoor venue in Australasia over the past 18 months.

It also won recognition as best venue of 2021 at the July 26 NZ Events Association awards.

“There are definitely plans in the pipeline for more outdoor concerts at Claudelands Oval,” Murray said, citing the “incredibly strong” bounce-back of confidence in the events market by promoters through 2022.

Auckland’s 50,000-seat sports stadium Eden Park, which last year also made its debut as a permanent concert venue, continued partnering with tech firms. 

In June a five-year deal with Samsung Electronics installed its LED signage in the East and West stands, and provided over 100 screens across the stadium.

“We are excited about the possibilities technology presents and will be working hard with Samsung to take the fan experience to the next level over the next five years,” said Nick Sautner, general manager – commercial.

With other partners, Eden Park built an IP-based network to introduce StadiumVision digital signage, WiFi, automated ticketing processes, security and building management, and boosted mobile capacity and coverage within the venue.

Marvel Stadium in Melbourne announced plans for a 5G augmented reality-based wayfinding app to provide fans information as seating directions from 2023.

Sports fans will also get pre-match augmented reality (AR) shows, multi-user AR games, enhanced player analytics and performance stats.