Central Leader : January 19th 2011
www.centralleader.co.nz Wednesday, January 19, 2011 0800 ABC KIDS Big future: Paul Nisbet is confident Mt Smart Stadium has a big future under the new supercity structure. Photo: JASON OXENHAM All set for Big Day Out By SCOTT MORGAN THE last of 22,000 temporary seats have just been removed from Mt Smart Stadium after the two huge U2 concerts last year but workers are already putting the finishing touches on amenities needed for Friday's Big Day Out. It's a busy time for stadium general manager Paul Nisbet with the New Zealand Warriors season also just around the corner. But behind the scenes the situation is also ever- changing under the new supercity structure. The stadium is part of the Regional Facilities Auckland council-controlled organis- ation, which also oversees The Edge, Auckland Zoo, Auckland Art Gallery and Viaduct Events Centre. It was previously owned by the Auckland Regional Coun- cil before the revamp of local government last year. Mr Nisbet has been in the job for 18 months and says it's exciting that the stadium can now work with other venues when trying to attract events to Auckland. What I'm personally excited about is being able to work with other stadiums in the region. It's important Auckland is seen as a premier destination nationally and inter- nationally.'' This attitude flies in the face of calls to sell the ground because of a view that Auck- land has too many stadiums before the local body election last year. Mr Nisbet says that is not the case and Mt Smart is not just about hosting big events. The stadium historically hosts up to 300 community events a year -- that's approximately 400,000 through its gates,'' Mr Nisbet says. These include school ath- letics days, club rugby league matches, Oceania and Auck- land Football training and casual use of the athletics track. Fiji and Ireland will also use the venue as a training ground during the Rugby World Cup later this year. Hosting the U2 concerts is something Mr Nisbet is par- ticularly proud of. We were competing nationally with other stadiums for the U2 concerts. It's very satisfying -- essentially the nights went off without a single hitch.'' He says the Big Day Out is different to organise because it's a festival with six stages across 22 hectares, although a similar amount of space was used for the U2 concerts. Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah says the club is committed to staying at Mt Smart until at least 2018 when its contract runs out, despite signing up to play a one-off match at Eden Park later this year. We're certainly not con- sidering any other home,'' he says. But Mr Scurrah says he'd like to see some of the facili- ties at Mt Smart upgraded. It'd be good to see things like scaffolding seats and por- taloos being replaced with permanent facilities.''
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