17/11/2014 - 17:13

New stadium a corporate challenge

17/11/2014 - 17:13


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Perth’s top sporting clubs are angling for control of corporate facilities and advertising at the new Perth Stadium.

MOVERS: WACA chief Christina Matthews (left), Perth Racing boss Stephen Wicks and West Coast Eagles chief Trevor Nisbett. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Perth’s top sporting clubs are angling for control of corporate facilities and advertising at the new Perth Stadium.

The state’s top sporting executives say the management of corporate boxes and suites at Perth Stadium is looming as a crucial aspect as to whether the new venue will increase the profitability of the teams set to play there.

Perth Racing assembled executives from Perth’s elite sporting organisations – the West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, the Western Australian Cricket Association, Netball WA and the Perth Wildcats – at the offices of prominent law firm Lavan Legal last week.

A wide-ranging discussion touched on the particular challenges facing each code – enhancing the fan experience to compete with the digital revolution, strict liquor licensing requirements at venues, the influence of gambling-related advertising on their respective products, and the management of corporate boxes and suites.

Perth Stadium project director Ronnie Hurst said the Department of Sports and Recreation was still working through the particulars of the management of corporate boxes at the new venue.

He said the shift to the new stadium would be a learning experience for the sporting clubs involved.

“It’s always an education with venues of this size in terms of learning how to operate them,” Mr Hurst told the panel.

“But the technology we’ve got is going to be fantastic.

“We’ve got LED signage on two levels, three quarters of the way around the stadium, which gives the sporting codes a great opportunity to sell, and throughout the stadium we will have 1,000 televisions as well so those are also opportunities for them.”

West Coast Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said the best economic outcome for the football team would be to manage the corporate boxes and in-stadium advertising itself, rather than via a third-party venue manager.

“There are going to be a lot of additional costs because of the size of the stadium, so that’s the best outcome, if it’s controlled by the user,” he said.

“Third parties really dilute the opportunities that sports have.”

Fremantle Dockers chief executive Steve Rosich said the main concern raised by the club’s members regarding the new stadium was the potential of extra costs to attend matches.

“We’re saying there may be an opportunity for it to cost less,” Mr Rosich told the panel.

“That’s what we’ll work through over the next little while with the government.

“One of the key issues that happens in South Australia, albeit they have achieved much of what you would hope to with a new stadium, is it’s fragmented in terms of sellers and who owns what, and that ultimately ends up affecting the customer or the stadium owner.”

WACA chief executive Christina Matthews said the encouraging thing about the new stadium was that the state government was prepared to work with the individual codes to ensure a positive result.

But she agreed the uncertainty about who would manage the corporate aspects of the arena was a significant concern.

“From our perspective, they are being very agreeable about what cricket needs without having any guarantee about whether cricket will go there,” Ms Matthews said

“The opportunity for us is huge, but it comes down to the commercial intricacies of that.

“It’s the venue costs that are the thing we really want to know, because the upside is in some ways obvious, but you have got to know where the downside is.”

Arena operator AEG Ogden leases all corporate suites at Perth Arena, the home of the Perth Wildcats.

All the suites were bought prior to the arena’s opening in November 2012, under two-to-six-year leases costing between $60,000 and $114,000 per year.

But Perth Wildcats managing director Nick Marvin said for basketball, corporates preferred to be courtside rather than in the upper reaches of a stadium, so the suite management deal hadn’t affected the team’s bottom line.

SHAKERS: Perth Wildcats boss Nick Marvin (left), Perth Stadium project director Ronnie Hurst and Fremantle Dockers chief Steve Rosich. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The Wildcats’ eight-seat courtside boxes, which are sold out for NBL season 2014-15, cost $43,500 for the year.

A couple rows back, a six-seat corporate box for the season costs $26,000, while a 12-seat box costs $51,500.

“We don’t have control of the suites upstairs, but we’re in a really good place because in basketball it’s about courtside seating and feet on the floor,” Mr Marvin said.

“It’s actually very complementary. We have a promoter’s suite that we don’t use for our games because the experience is about being on the floor, it’s about being seen and feeling like you’re part of the action.” 


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