Business North August 2022

12 | DEVELOPMENT Eden Park Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Eden Park staff. Revitalising the events industry Richard Loader Capable of hosting up to 50,000 excited fans, Eden Park holds the honour of being New Zealand’s largest stadium and a strategic asset for Tāmaki Makaurau, and the whole of Aotearoa. The Park, whose esteemed history spans 120 years, has evolved as a truly multi-purpose venue that attracts high profile, and significant international sporting, cultural and community events. Recent examples include the Women’s Rugby World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, world-class concerts including SIX60, Ed Sheeran and Guns N’ Roses, and a range of regional and local community events, all of which provide substantial economic, social, and cultural benefits. “The venue is an internationally iconic stadium, and we’re incredibly proud to be hosting some of the biggest sporting fixtures and concerts in New Zealand’s history,” says CEO Nick Sautner. “These events are exceptional opportunities to showcase our city, as well as our country, to the world while also delivering events and functions to benefit our local community.” Due to its status as New Zealand’s largest stadium, Eden Park plays a critical role in securing premium content. For premier global events like World Cups, host countries are generally required to have at least one stadium with a capacity of 50-60,000 to be eligible for selection. “Eden Park is the only venue in the country that meets this requirement. Without an appropriately fit-for-purpose Eden Park, Aotearoa would be unlikely to successfully bid for World Cup tournaments in the future.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the events/ venues sector was one of the most severely impacted industries. During lockdowns, venues were consistently the first to go into lockdown and the last to reopen, having a significant impact on revenue, as well as downstream effects on surrounding communities. “Over the last two or three years we’ve navigated the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 – however, we have begun to see a return “These events are exceptional opportunities to showcase our city, as well as our country, to the world ... “ to live events over recent months with the Blues v Crusaders Super Rugby Final and All Blacks v Ireland both recently selling out,” says Nick. “But, our most significant challenge is to continue navigating the post-COVID landscape. Like many other businesses, we were forced to defer and delay any works that were not time-critical; this has resulted in aging infrastructure throughout the stadium which must now be upgraded with urgency. The securing of nine games for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – a landmark event that will have higher viewership than any event ever held in New Zealand – adds to the necessity of completing these works. “Over the coming months, Eden Park stadium will play a crucial role in the revitalisation of the events industry. Major events, such as the upcoming SIX60, Guns ‘N Roses and Ed Sheeran concerts and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be hugely important for Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa as we rebuild business confidence and welcome fans ‘Back Together’ to celebrate significant occasions. “We also see Eden Park playing an important role in championing gender equality, culture, diversity and inclusion. In the past, the stadium has been seen as primarily a sporting venue, but we aspire to change this perspective. Over the past several years we have engaged in a number of initiatives and events to broaden the venue’s horizons. These include, Art in the Park, three Women’s World Cups (including legacy projects such as gender equal changing facilities) and street-to-seat audits for those with reduced mobility. These are just a few examples of the strategy we hope to further cultivate over the coming years.” Nick puts the case that Eden Park should be the venue for all New Zealanders. “As we often say, we are committed to creating a better Auckland for our people, our place and our community. We aim for this approach to be reflected in all of our events, projects and initiatives, and for the benefit if all Kiwis.”