Greg Sleigh, General Manager, Commercial, Optus Stadium

Slowly and ever so slightly, some light has arrived at the end of what appeared to be a pretty dark tunnel for live sport and entertainment.

First, the return of Korea’s K -League. Notable for their inadvertent utilisation of sex dolls as they endeavoured to fill their locked down stands.

Then the Bundesliga.

Locally, the National Rugby League’s successful return has reminded a broad section of our community the important role sport and entertainment plays in their daily lives.

I was amazed last weekend to take calls from friends in Europe and the US interested to understand the fantastic crowd noise technology that was used in the coverage – a reminder that when sport is turned back on, the whole world is literally watching!

Much research is currently being conducted regarding fan’s propensity to return to live sport and entertainment – Ticketmaster recently released their National survey of more than 9,000 ticket purchasers which, among other nuggets, indicated that:

  • 77% of respondents would buy tickets to events as soon as they’re allowed;
  • 70% expected to attend as many events post COVID as they had previously; and
  • 15% in the 18-24 age group would attend more events as soon as they were allowed.

As we continue to demonstrate the containment of the virus, arguably on a better trajectory than what had been anticipated, literally the million dollar question for us is what comes next?

Across the business we’re in daily contact with all sections of the industry regarding their future plansc- what started as a sense of helplessness regarding our inability to plan or shape attitudes is gradually turning:

  • Promoters who really haven’t spent any time working together in their cut- throat industry, sit on national committees (with Daryl) to develop mass gathering protocols,
  • Lofty and Bec sit on an AFL venue group working with colleagues nationally on the return to crowds staging; and
  • The increasing popularity of Zoom calls means that it’s easier to be in touch with colleagues across the country and internationally to swap stories and intel regarding opportunities and the processes we’ll need to implement to welcome the ‘new normal’.

We’ve got much to do, internally and as an industry from both a commercial and operational perspective to be ready for what comes next but there is a ‘next’ and all of a sudden it’s not that far away.

In the words of the great Thomas Kenneally, ‘Blow that whistle ref’…