He is set to become Optus Stadium’s real-life action man. He’s worked in 12 countries (some of which he can’t disclose…) and will now be an integral part of the team bringing Optus Stadium’s Roof Climb to the world. Meet Bart Mills – Optus Stadium’s Technical Specialist Attractions
Tell us about the new Optus Stadium Roof Climb?
This new Roof Climb will change the focus of the Stadium, bringing a whole new client base. Imagine being able to watch a Test Match sitting up high on the roof – that’s going to be pretty phenomenal. This sort of product has worked great at the SCG and Adelaide Oval. Perth is a very sporty town and I can really see us taking this to the next level. 2021 will be a challenge given the world we’re living in now, but it gives us time to get this product right and I think West Australians will love it. We are the most beautiful stadium in the world, so why not leverage that?
What’s the biggest challenge?
Finding the right balance between staff, commercial demands and operational requirements, all while maintaining the highest level of customer service and attraction safety.
Tell us about your previous job – Auckland Sky Tower Walk & Jump?
They have a simulated BASE jump off a little gantry built above the restaurant, 198m above ground level. You’re attached to a 20mm steel cable which is wrapped around an aeroplane prop as the drum which feeds the cable out. There are five weight settings, you jump off and then about 20m from the ground the fan is spinning quicker going through the gear ratios slowing you down. It’s a good adrenaline rush, a perfect segue into bungee jumping or skydiving.
And there is a ledge walk too?
I was lucky enough to be part of the team that designed and built that. It will be very similar to what we hope to offer here too.
You’ve worked and lived in 12 countries?
Correct. Some I can tell you about, some I can’t… that was my defence career. But I have worked in NZ, Canada, USA, England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore – they’re the ones I can tell you about. The jobs have mainly been in industrial height safety or adventure tourism. Auckland Sky Tower was probably my favourite job.
Was the military your pathway into what you’re doing now?
Yes, I was too tall to be a helicopter pilot which was what I wanted to do. Then I joined the 5th RAR – a paratrooper regiment – and then ended up in Intelligence Corp, which is where I spent the bulk of my military career.
What’s your favourite part of the world – working or holidaying?
Montreal, Canada. It has sport, culture, great eating and drinking spots, the people are amazing. The location is phenomenal. You can snowboard and bobsled in the mountains 40 minutes away. Toronto is an hour away or you can drive down to the US and be in northern New York State, Syracuse – an amazing sports university town – in an hour.
And did you work there?
Yes, I was training with the Cirque Du Soleil riggers. In there as a specialist helping them out.
Will you miss the travel with this job?
No, not at all. I have travelled too much in jobs, I missed my kids (two boys, Jackson 6 and Lucas 4), I had no real connection with sporting clubs I’m a member of, no social life outside of a beer in a hotel lobby and the time zones can wreck you.
So something good has come out of COVID for you?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hit a lot of people around the world really hard. I have friends in the US who have lost family members. From a mental health side of things, many people have struggled and it’s been far from ideal. But I think I have made the best of it. I learned you can’t dwell on things you can’t change. You just have to remain positive about things and you will feel better.
You love your sports?
I’ve just retired from playing gridiron with the Claremont Jets, after almost 10 full seasons. I play baseball in summer for the Balcatta Bears. It was tough for a while in summer, I’d play gridiron on a Friday night and then hobble out to play baseball on a Sunday. I’m a relieving pitcher and centre fielder in baseball.
And rugby union as well?
Yep, I play for UWA – about to click up 100 games. I play in the backline. I was knocked out a few weeks ago so I’ve had a few weeks off.
With two young boys who love sport, I feel like you’re about to enter kids sport coaching?
Definitely, I remember my dad tentatively putting his hand up and coaching for 10 years straight. I look forward to it.
What events would you like to see at Optus Stadium – assuming the normal world resumes?
An NFL game would be cool.
And a music act?
I love the Zak Brown Band but I feel they’re not an Optus Stadium event! I would love to have worked the Taylor Swift concert here in 2019.