Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Staff shortages result in long F&B queues during AFL semi-final at Perth’s Optus Stadium

Staff shortages result in long F&B queues during AFL semi-final at Perth’s Optus Stadium
September 5, 2021

Optus Stadium Chief Executive Mike McKenna has promised improvements to the venue’s food and drink service ahead of next week’s AFL preliminary finals after fans voiced complaints about long wait times during Friday’s semi-final between Geelong and the GWS Giants.

Fans complained of waiting for up to 40 minutes at food and beverage (F&B) concessions, taking to social media to express their frustrations.

In response, McKenna today advised that recruitment challenges for hospitality staff were a major cause of what he described as the “most difficult night” since the 60,000-capacity opened in 2017.

Speaking to ABC Sport's Footy Forum radio program this morning, McKenna said the venue has historically attracted overseas students and backpackers seeking work, but travel restrictions have led to an “extreme labour shortage” in the hospitality industry.

McKenna told the ABC “(it was) probably the most difficult night we've had since the very first event of the stadium, which was a big ODI.

"There certainly was reaction, and probably fair reaction too … it was not a great performance.

"We had lots of people working very hard, but we didn't have enough of them. And so we didn't provide the experience that we normally do.

"We had people queuing for far longer than they should have to get a beer or a pie. And in some cases, we didn't keep up with the demand at the point of sales, so we weren’t cooking fast enough, we weren't getting it out to people fast enough.”

Explaining the labour shortage facing the hospitality sector, McKenna advised “we've had demand for people who normally work these jobs, casual workers throughout the hotels, restaurants, bars, and up and down the state and tourist locations, and we just don't have enough people anymore.

"We've lost the backpackers and the overseas students who put in so many hours in these type of jobs and last night really came to a head for us and it was a disappointing performance."

He advised that the 5.50pm kick off for the match increased pressure on staff to get to the venue in time, with many coming from other commitments, noting "I really feel for the casuals who did turn up last night and really worked very hard to keep the queues moving, keep the food up to the customers and they were absolutely whacked by the end of the night.”

He said the time of the game was also an issue for fans, with around 15,000 ticket holders not inside the venue at the opening bounce.

Looking ahead to next weekend’s preliminary final between Melbourne and Geelong - also on Friday night and the Grand Final the following weekend, McKenna said fans would receive an improved service.

He added “we’ve been short on staff before, we’ll probably be short on our ideal roster next week, but it won’t affect the customer service that we deliver.

“The grand final is another level above that to, you know, probably talking about 2,500 jobs by the time we get to the grand final … and that’s a challenge.

"We've had State of Origins, Bledisloe Cups, we’ve had other events dropped on us including Dreamtime on a six-day notice and we managed to cover those, so I'm pretty confident that we’ll rise to the challenge.

"It will be much better by the time we get to next week in the preliminary final because we've just got that extra week to get the roster done, and people to adjust to what time they've got to be on site.

"And we're very confident about that."

Western Australia will host the AFL Grand Final for the first time on 25th September as a result of the League moving from the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a result of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Images: Bar at Optus Stadium (top) and Optus Stadium Chief Executive Mike McKenna (below).

Related Articles

5th September 2021 - Calls for AFL fans to be banned from matches if they don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine

1st September 2021 - AFL’s Perth Grand Final will not feature fans and media from NSW and Victoria

1st September 2021 - Monash University experts comment on AFL Grand Final being played in Perth

31st August 2021 - AFL 2021 Grand Final to be played at Perth’s Optus Stadium

29th August 2021 - What employers need to consider about vaccinations for staff and consumers

25th August 2021 - Perth’s Optus Stadium to host 2021 AFL Grand Final if fixture moved from MCG

3rd August 2021 - Construction commences on new rooftop viewing platform at Perth’s Optus Stadium

2nd May 2021 - Coronavirus fears sees fans barred from AFL western derby at Perth’s Optus Stadium

21st April 2021 - Quayclean acknowledges phenomenal staff efforts over Easter

21st April 2021 - State of Origin returns to Optus Stadium in 2022

20th April 2021 - Optus Stadium welcomes largest Australian sports crowd since before Coronavirus

16th April 2021 - Returning to full capacity operations sees Perth’s Optus Stadium and RAC Arena look to recruit

10th April 2021 - Optus Stadium looks to welcome capacity crowds as Western Australian venue restrictions lifted

29th March 2021 - Stadia keen to recruit new staff

12th February 2021 - Seek jobs website shows rise in demand for hospitality and tourism staff

21st January 2021 - Optus Stadium set to be transformed with ultra-fast 5G connectivity

21st July 2020 - VenuesLive flags permanent employment opportunities at ANZ, Bankwest and Optus Stadiums

13th July 2020 - Optus Stadium prepares for AFL fixtures this week

24th June 2020 - Optus Stadium ready to welcome crowds back from 18th July

19th December 2017 - Local businesses benefit from new Optus Stadium contracts

Support our industry news service
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

As an independent publisher, we need reader support for our industry news gathering so ask that - if you don't already do so - you back us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine and/or our online news.

Click here to view our subscription options.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

TJS Services

TJS Services is a leading national facility services provider. We deliver quality cleaning, maintenance, construction and facility management services to over 1,500 sites Australia wide.  Our…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Venues


ProSlide Technology

ProSlide is the global leader in water ride design and manufacturing, supplying high-performance water attractions to new and expanding water parks around the world. For over three decades, ProSlide…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Waterparks


Perfect Gym

Perfect Gym Solutions is a software as a service (SaaS) solution purpose-built to service the fitness industry, with over 1000 clients servicing over 2 million gym members across 40 countries making…

read more

Access / Fitness / Marketing / Recreation / Technology


Smart Connection Consultancy

Smart Connection Consultancy is a boutique sport and recreation consultancy who has become one of Australia’s leading advocates for the use of synthetic sports surfaces as a vehicle to grow…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


State Wide Pool Services

Known as Hydrilla since September 2020 - see

read more




Our team believes floors should be beautiful, comfortable, and engineered for safety, even when wet. Life Floor tiles meet six unique performance based standards: slip-resistance, impact absorption,…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Recreation / Safety / Surfaces


TicketSearch Pty Ltd

TicketSearch is focused on providing businesses, organisations, and venues with affordable, efficient, and powerful self-managed ticketing solutions. The organisation has offices in Australia, New…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business