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Eden Park Chief Executive ‘thrilled’ at prospect of again welcoming fans to watch live sport

Eden Park Chief Executive ‘thrilled’ at prospect of again welcoming fans to watch live sport
June 5, 2020

With New Zealand’s Coronavirus restrictions potentially being further eased next week to allow fans to again attend sporting events, Eden Park Trust Chief Executive, Nick Sautner has advised that he is “thrilled” that the venue may be able to reopen its doors to the public as soon as next week.

Sautner told Australasian Leisure Management that “the possibility of Alert Level 1 could not come soon enough for us with the stadium industry currently in crisis.”

With New Zealand’s major venues having been shuttered since March, Sautner explained “with the majority of industries able to get back up and running in Alert Level 2, it remains an extraordinary time for stadia and we’re sorely missing the unbeatable crowd atmosphere of live sport at Eden Park.

“We’re appreciative of the work New Zealand Government and our ‘team of 5 million’ has done in eliminating the virus from New Zealand and we do understand the importance of getting it right to allow a return to larger events.

“The ceasing of all activity at Eden Park has had a direct impact on every revenue stream including our members and corporate suites, partners, catering, corporate functions, ticketing revenue and our tourism attractions such as daily tours, Staydium Glamping and the Sky Sport Rooftop Tour and Zipline.

“We have taken a number of proactive measures like reducing all salaries and wages, our Board forgoing fees, deferring non-essential activities, reducing contract labour and making some difficult redundancies of very able and talented staff.

“I’m immensely proud of our team in their response to COVID-19 which illustrated their ability to pivot outside of their normal roles and consider how we can give back to our community, as well as create alternative revenue streams during this downturn.”

With New Zealand Rugby having announced its new Super Rugby Aoteorea last week, Eden Park immediately signalled its commitment to hosting The Blues fixtures as part of redefined competition.

Sautner noted “we explored a pilot where we could bring together our members and members from Auckland Rugby and The Blues to acknowledge their unwavering support during this challenging period.”

With the concept centring around Eden Park’s ability to segregate the stadium into blocks of 500 with designated entries and exits, Sautner advised “we had envisaged 10 allocated gates, each able to seat 500 within its zone - with allocated seating, creating a total of 5,000 pax and could arguably increase this to a greater number if initial games proved successful. However, our priority has always been to provide a level of comfort through our robust procedures and a range of operational planning options to enable all fans back to the stadium. However, this now looks like it will be unnecessary, and the news that Alert Level 1 requires no restrictions is welcome.

“We are continuing to work closely with Government and sporting bodies to ensure every necessary measure is in place to welcome eventgoers back to the stadium as safely as possible. The health of our staff, patrons and athletes remains our priority and we’re working to build robust processes including physical distancing, hygiene, screening, enhanced cleaning and sanitation for team areas and trainings, should they be necessary.

“We now have the opportunity to play a pivotal role in rebuilding the industry and providing confidence to event goers given our physical infrastructure and industry leading processes.”

Looking forward, Saunter added “I was talking with a partner in the banking sector last week who mentioned a recent business confidence survey found six out of 10 Kiwis believed rugby recommencing at Eden Park is a sign of life returning to normal. We are committed more than ever to emerging stronger from this pandemic, and contribute to the production of vital industry content.

“It is extremely positive that because of the country’s quick response to COVID-19, New Zealand is in the unique position where it can potentially attract teams and events to be broadcast internationally.”

During lockdown Eden Park won the international award for Product Innovation for our Staydium Glamping experience at the UK’s TheStadiumBusiness Awards while Sautner became a Certified Venue Executive - apparently the first CVE completed in New Zealand.

Sautner concluded “despite the difficult circumstances surrounding the lockdown, our team remain committed to continuing to do what we do best - putting on incredible content at New Zealand’s national stadium for the people of Auckland and New Zealand.”

Images: Blues fans at Eden Park (top) and Nick Sautner (below).

Related Articles

4th June 2020 - New Zealand looks for return of spectator sport from next week

3rd June 2020 - New Zealand Government moves to eliminate Coronavirus restrictions

2nd June 2020 - New Zealand Rugby announces details of new domestic competition

29th May 2020 - CINZ welcomes decision to allow multiple groups of 100 in New Zealand conference venues

28th May 2020 - Advisory group says Australia-New Zealand travel bubble could be in place in months

21st May 2020 - New Zealand events bodies submit industry recovery plan to Government

19th May 2020 - Quality of Eden Park’s playing surface recognised by New Zealand Cricket

17th May 2020 - New Zealand budget includes $265 million for sport and recreation

15th May 2020 - Skills Active keen to help New Zealanders get back into working and training

11th May 2020 - Coronavirus and financial losses push New Zealand Rugby to lay off half its staff

8th May 2020 - New Zealand Government announces framework for return of professional rugby and netball competitions

8th May 2020 - World Rugby releases guidelines for top level matches to be held in closed stadiums

25th April 2020 - Eden Park pays special tribute on ANZAC Day

23rd April 2020 - Eden Park secures international innovation award for Staydium Glamping experience

22nd April 2020 - Auckland’s Eden Park and Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena win at TheStadiumBusiness Awards 2020

17th March 2020 - MEETINGS 2020 postponed as EVANZ stands alongside industry association colleagues

1st February 2020 - Reduction in match days prompts New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams to seek compensation

28th November 2019 - Baycourt Community and Arts Centre and Eden Park’s Nick Sautner secure 2019 EVANZ Supreme Awards

5th June 2019 - Marvel Stadium, the SCG and Nick Sautner announced winners at TheStadiumBusiness Awards 2019

7th June 2019 - Eden Park Chief Executive recognised as global Executive of the Year

24th October 2018 - Eden Park team retains Australasian Leisure Management communication and marketing award


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