Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion in Dresden is the home of Germany’s long-standing soccer club Dynamo Dresden. An while sports is the most important business segment, concerts and major events are becoming increasingly more important during soccer-free periods. Pollstar reached out to the building’s event manager Simone Wendt, to talk about the state of play at one of Germany’s largest single-tier stadiums, boasting an overall capacity of 32,249.
Pollstar: How would you sum up the state/health of the German live entertainment market in general at this point in time? Does the business in Dresden reflect that, or does it stand out in any way?
Simone Wendt: In our estimation, market conditions in Dresden since Corona have developed very well. It feels like the number of live shows and concerts is on the same level as before, and the interest in Dresden as a location [for live] continues to develop positively.
I’m assuming price increases across the board, in every part of the supply chain, are a challenge? Any other major challenges you’re experiencing right now?
The price increases in all market segments are a major challenge, as is the shortage of personnel capacities in almost all areas, security, catering, etc.
What’s your business model? I’m assuming a mixture of sports and events? How important is each to your business?
That’s exactly how it is. We are the home stadium of the tradition-rich [soccer club] SG Dynamo Dresden e.V. The fans regularly ensure a full and atmospheric stadium. Since 2015, our business segment ‘concerts and major events’ has become increasingly more important during the periods when soccer takes a break. Our business model is based on a mix of different event formats, with soccer being the clear number one. In principle, it is divided into three major areas: sports, shows and concerts, as well as business events.
What are the bestsellers in terms of tickets?
Soccer sells by far the most tickets, concerts follow on second place. Somewhat surprisingly, audience demand for tickets to take a tour of the stadium is not abating even after 12 years since the stadium’s reopening – this area is consistently doing very well.
How many tickets did you sell so far in 2023, and how does it compare to previous years?
Ticket sales in soccer are, of course, dependent on the success of the team. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that ticket sales are back to pre-COVID levels. In the first half of 2023, over 280,000 tickets were sold in the sports segment. We also held the ‘Monster Jam’ motorsports event in July 2023 for the first time, and got ‘rewarded’ with a double show and approximately 40,000 tickets sold.
The artists who can, are increasingly choosing to play stadium shows. Does that benefit you? Do you see an uptake in entertainment taking place at stadiums?
The general trend is certainly to play stadium shows, the existing infrastructure is a major scoring point [for promoters]. One obstacle with soccer stadiums are the narrow time windows [to host concerts].
Large stadiums in large cities have advantages in marketing. The flip side are high expenses to keep the stadium playable and marketable. They require constant optimization, and the areas of maintenance, repairs, and operations generate high costs.
Has customer behavior changed in any way compared to, say, pre-COVID? Are they for example waiting longer to buy tickets? Is the demographic purchasing tickets shifting? have VIP offerings gained in importance? Anything like that?
As far as our stadium is concerned, customer behavior has not changed much. The VIP offers are an important factor in marketing due to the existing business clubs and boxes.
What recent successes and upcoming events at Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion would you like to highlight?
After a three-year break, the Advent concert with Dresden’s famous choir, the Kreuzchor, and other international artists will finally take place in our stadium again this year just before Christmas. This open-air concert in December has become a unique experience, it will be a very emotional evening.