As we countdown to TheStadiumBusiness Summit 2016 we catch up with Andrew Daniels, CEO, Adelaide Oval about all the latest projects, challenges and fan engagement strategies that’s happening ‘down under’.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at Adelaide Oval?
I’m the CEO of the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority. We hold the lease for the Oval for the next 80 years and are responsible for running, maintaining and developing the precinct.
The great thing with the Oval is its long history and the recent AUS$535m capital upgrade. This investment seamlessly blended the best in modern stadium design with world famous history and heritage. The redeveloped Adelaide Oval has now found a place in the psyche of South Australians like no other structure in this city. It has become a focal point for celebration and for commemoration and is a beacon that is seen and shown around the world.
What are the biggest challenges Adelaide Oval is currently facing?
We have a unique structure at the Oval in that the Stadium Management Authority has two key stakeholders – football and cricket. During the Summer the key focus is cricket, and during the Winter it turns to Australian Rules Football.
Balancing the needs of both stakeholders can be difficult, as is balancing the needs of other venue users which all have conflicting needs and wants .
Finding the balance is certainly a challenge.
So, what do you do on non-matchdays? How creative are you when the calendar is empty to get fans into the stadium?
It’s really important to be creative. The type of structure we have means that the money we earn for each match (of cricket and Australian football) is reinvested back into the particular sport.
So, it’s very important for the stadium that we run additional events such as soccer, rugby, concerts, Monster Jams etc. so we can generate the money needed to manage, maintain and grow the stadium. To assist with this, we are also the largest function center in Adelaide for conferences, awards evenings, major dinners and so on.
But, fundamentally it’s crucial we maximise the usage of the stadium 365 days a year.
What has Adelaide Oval been doing to enhance the fan experience?
The fans always want more. Fans are very demanding, they accept what you’ve done and expect something new very quickly.
We’ve been improving the technology at the stadium, including the Wi-Fi, sound, digital signage and more.
I think if we were to sit back and remain inactive, we’d run the risk of losing the desirability and crowd numbers will naturally decrease.
What we’ve found at the Oval, regardless of what event we’re putting on, is that the Oval is punching well above it’s weight. It’s selling more tickets than a promoter would expect.
People want to travel to the Oval. I believe this is testament to keeping the stadium at the cutting edge of the industry.
So you’re mainly looking to improve telecommunications, sound and digital signage?
Yes, but there is always more to be done. Fundamentally, we want to give fans a better experience. We want fans to have a fully immersive 4D experience, therefore we are looking to improve all areas of the stadium.
Do you benchmark against other clubs/teams?
We mainly benchmark domestically, but we do also look at other venues from around the world.
Domestically, we benchmark against Etihad, MCG, SCG and ANZ Stadium to understand the cost per head expenses for our venue hirers, as well as comparisons of costs to patrons for areas such as food and beverage, merchandise, etc.
The Australian market is incredibly competitive and tough so it’s important we’re cost effective, as this allows us to bring the biggest and best events and attract the crowds to the Oval.
What are the key takings you’re looking to learn at SBS?
The latest trends and issues in the industry. We’ve been to TheStadiumBusiness Summit a number of times and every year we pick up something new. It doesn’t matter where in the world you work, everyone in the industry faces the same challenges.
We all have the demands of the fans and venue hirers so we’re all always looking to new ways to commercialise our stadiums.
But, it’s not just for the knowledge sharing. It’s also to meet new contacts.
In fact, I have made contacts at the Summit which have led to new investments at the Adelaide Oval.
For example, a few years ago I spoke to Andy Broad, Managing Director, Wire and Sky and from that discussion we undertook extensive investigation, prepared a business case and have now just recently opened our new ‘RoofClimb’ experience at the Oval.
This all came directly from a presentation at the 2013 TheStadiumBusiness Summit. You can’t put a price of this type of engagement and interaction.
Why do you think the industry needs to get together like this?
As mentioned, knowledge sharing and networking, but to be honest, there really isn’t a conference like this in the world. I only go to one conference every year, and it’s TheStadiumBusiness Summit.
It’s crucial the industry gets together annually and thankfully they’re all there at TheStadiumBusiness Summit.
What piece of advice would you give to fellow stadium operators/owners?
Every stadium faces the same single challenge . The business plan of a stadium is very simple – it’s all about content, content and more content.
Maximise your content and more money will flow into the venue, ultimately allowing you to reinvest and grow.
Final point about the Summit:
I really enjoy attending TheStadiumBusiness Summit as I get to make new friends, but also catch up with old ones I’ve made over the past few years. But, most importantly it’s about learning new ideas and trends – this is incredibly important to us.