25/09/2015 - 14:12

Record crowds to test Domain stadium

25/09/2015 - 14:12

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Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles fans will be heavily invested in the on-field action at the two preliminary finals in Perth tonight and tomorrow, but the operator of the ageing Domain stadium is counting on an even bigger bet coming off.

Record crowds to test Domain stadium
Perth Stadium Management general manager Gavin Taylor. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles fans will be heavily invested in the onfield action at the two preliminary finals in Perth tonight and tomorrow, but the operator of the ageing Domain stadium is counting on an even bigger bet coming off.

Perth Stadium Management is about to discover whether a delicate balancing act, between spending enough capital to improve fan experiences at the stadium and justifying additional costs for an ageing precinct due to lose AFL games in 2018, has been successful.

Perth Stadium Management general manager Gavin Taylor told Business News he was confident a strategic decision made two years ago to update select aspects of the 43,500-seat stadium, which was built in 1908 as Mueller Park, would prove to be the right one, even during times of extreme demand.

Mr Taylor, who is a Dockers fan, said more than 5,500 work hours had gone into delivering this weekend’s two blockbuster games.

He said Perth Stadium Management had researched customer expectations before deciding where to spend extra capital, ahead of the arena's imminent loss of the state's biggest football games in 2018 when the 60,000-seat Perth Stadium opens.  

It has spent about $1 million on new TVs and audio visual equipment within the stadium, and $2 million on retail offerings including food facilities, outdoor bars and live music areas.

It has also swapped caterers, from Spotless Facilities Services to Delaware North (a partner in Perth Stadium Management) to improve food for both corporate clients in boxes and fans seated around the oval.

Mr Taylor said returns on the investment so far had been significantly above management’s expectations.

“Our whole approach to delivering this new food experience, is the uptake in spend rates is up 20 per cent compared to previous years,” he said.

However, he said Perth Stadium Management had not been able to invest in major structural improvements.

“One of the challenges that we face that we’ll have on Friday and Saturday is the whole congestion issue, particularly around our toilets,” Mr Taylor said.

“If you compare our stadium to any of the modern stadia, our concourses are typically a quarter or a third of the size. There’s typically another 50 per cent of toilets available, so those amenity things which make it more convenient for the fans, we just haven’t been able to invest in those knowing that there’s a short life span left.”

To compensate for this, mobile toilet blocks have been wheeled out for this weekend and more than 1,100 staff will be on hand.

Mr Taylor said after weeks of preparation he believed Perth Stadium Management, which is also bidding to service Perth Stadium when it opens, could deliver.

“Our capacity is 43,500 and two years ago when Fremantle played Sydney we had 43,289 fans turn up. I’m expecting that we’ll get two full houses (this weekend) so hopefully we’ll break those records across both matches,” he said.

“Our whole motto over the last two years and it will continue over the next two years is how do we drive great fan experiences through all of our staff and the services we provide here.”   

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