DVML's new head seeks iconic events

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd's new chief executive, Terry Davies, hopes sweeping changes will bring ''A-grade'' acts to Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Dunedin Venues Management Ltd's new chief executive, Terry Davies, hopes sweeping changes will bring ''A-grade'' acts to Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The new broom in charge of Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium says the venue can still find success by attracting more big concerts and creating ''iconic'' events.

Terry Davies (53), an English-born former cricketer working as an event and venue manager in Australia, started work as Dunedin Venues Management Ltd's chief executive this week.

Mr Davies is the company's third chief executive in less than two years, following David Davies and Darren Burden, and arrives as DVML faces predicted losses totalling $3.8 million over the next three years.

However, Mr Davies yesterday told the Otago Daily Times he aimed to lift DVML's performance, including by breathing new life into staff ''smashed'' by years of public criticism.

He would also sharpen the company's commercial focus and encourage the community to be proud of their stadium, in part by targeting more big concerts and creating new ''iconic'' events for the venue.

That work had already begun and DVML staff were negotiating a possible ''A-grade'' concert for the roofed venue, Mr Davies said.

He would not be drawn on details, but said the concert - if confirmed - would be bigger than Sir Elton John's 2011 sellout show.

''I'm talking about a performer, or an act, that will sell out within three hours. It's an international act.''

And, despite past criticism of the stadium as a concert venue, Mr Davies still saw a future for the roofed venue hosting major acts.

It was ''realistic'' to hope to attract at least one A-grade concert every year or two, while, at the next level down, he planned to target more performers of the calibre of Sir Elton or Neil Diamond.

''We can get them and we'd be aiming at getting as many of those shows as we can.''

He also welcomed the Dunedin City Council's stadium review, launched earlier this year, but said DVML's finances would remain challenging as long as it had to pay $4 million in rent each year to service stadium debts.

Unless ''common sense'' prevailed, he expected DVML's ''best scenario'' would be a break-even result.

''We need to get that model right.''

His comments came after Mr Davies was confirmed as Mr Burden's replacement last month, beating 45 other candidates to secure an open-ended contract worth up to $225,000 a year.

And, after the departure of two DVML chief executives in quick succession, Mr Davies said he would be in no rush to leave Dunedin.

He planned to buy a house once his wife - and possibly one of his three adult children - joined him in the city in a few months.

''I'm committed to stay as long as the board want me here and as long as I think there's a challenge here.''

Mr Davies had moved to Dunedin from Australia, where he settled in 1986 after a career as a professional cricketer at the Glamorgan County Cricket Club in Wales.

In Australia, he joined the Pacific Dunlop Group clothing company, working for Bonds, before a 15-year stint with the South Australian Cricket Association, which ran the Adelaide Oval.

He was the association's marketing, memberships and commercial operations manager, as well as its deputy chief executive, as the ground built a reputation for hosting major events, including AC/DC, Pearl Jam and Fleetwood Mac concerts and Ashes cricket tests.

In 2010, he transferred to Etihad Stadium, in Melbourne, for a year-long stint as its commercial operations general manager, responsible for venue membership clubs, corporate hospitality and sponsorships.

He became the South Australian Tourism Commission's event strategy manager in 2011, overseeing a strategic plan for events and their commercialisation, before taking ''time out'' to help his children launch a retail business.

Mr Davies said he was looking for a chance to move back into venue management when the Dunedin opportunity emerged.

He was encouraged by the idea of tapping into a ''parochial'' region that would rally around big events, and the chance to make improvements.

''What I like about here is we're a bit underdone. I think there's an opportunity to do a couple of things.''

He was aware of the stadium's rocky history - ''everyone's been beaten around the head by it'' - but wanted to encourage the community to be proud of the venue.

He also hoped to meet long-time stadium critic Bev Butler as part of a push to be more open and transparent.

DVML was responsible for a suite of venues including Dunedin's town hall, which Mr Davies said was an ''unbelievable'' asset that was underutilised but had ''phenomenal'' potential for growth.

He hoped Dunedin could follow Adelaide's lead in creating festival-style events, particularly with a large student population on the stadium's doorstep.

Initial ideas included a festival of concerts around Orientation Week, partnerships with the likes of the fashion industry, or creating new events that could grow, he said.

''We'd love to build some iconic events ... whatever that is, it's an in-your-diary event that's at Forsyth Barr [Stadium].''

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Terry Davies (53)
2011-12
South Australian Tourism Commission events strategy manager.
2010 Etihad Stadium (Melbourne) sales and marketing general manager.
2006-10 South Australia Cricket Association commercial operations general manager and deputy chief executive.
1995-2006 SACA marketing and membership manager.
1994-95 Bonds clothing company business manager.
1992-94 Bonds special projects executive.1987-90 Bonds major account executive.
1980-86 Glamorgan Country Cricket Club professional cricketer.

 

Clutching straws...

Clearly that's a long (and amusing) grasp at a straw of Colvin to even attempt to suggest that the Chief Post Office project is 'clearly' going ahead because of a normally empty white elephant bleeding the city dry is present, at some 2.5 - 3km distant. Perhaps too then, the increase in cruise ships over recent years is also because of the stadium being there... a wonder they haven't deepened the harbour so the cruise ships can come right up to the city and passengers can look at the stadium from the decks. Too bad the passengers, like most visitors, seem to be more of a preference doing the city's real attractions, be it the peninsula and castle, Taieri Gorge Railway or just the classic buildings.

If anti stadium are supposedly implied as being conservative, does that mean the non conservative think it's absolutely fine for something so frivolous to be built at any expense, stunting other things the city could do with just for a few games of rugby? (And in attempt to make it sound multi-purpose, throw in a few other events that could have easily been held in other venues if the stadium was not there).

Carry it on

In that case, Mike, keep on, with the AVM, Anti Victimology Movement.

Answers

Albert: on this page under the heading "same old same old"

Colvin: I don't believe the fubar stadium is located in the exchange area

Irrelevant connection

Colvin. You are drawing a very long bow on that one. A serious business does not make business decisions on whether there is a stadium in town. You might have noticed Dunedin is not the only city.....or town..with a stadium. Especially decisions on where to locate based on being close to a failing stadium.

Nice try. Try again. That was funny. 

Power of the online?

MikeSt, where did you do the pointing out? As perceptive as pseudonomous conmenters may be, there is no evidence we influence the course of events.

We are all victims

Guardalajara. Not just me. We are all victims. We are waiting for compensation too. The boys have to pay their dues instead of bludging off the ratepayers.

FB Stadium and CPO

Clearly the presence of the FB Stadium gave Silver Ferns Farms the confidence to go into the Chief Post Office resulting in a 25% increase in revenue for surrounding businesses.

Hopefully some of Dunedin's more conservative brigade will be excited at this happy event. Mike and Russ?

Very serious, but amused

Kiwibodyboarder - Sorry mate that you don't appreciate analogy. Dozen people against the stadium farce?. Are you serious?

Best you clear your mind, go for a surf, and look out for the sharks among us. 

Bonhomie counts?

Sorry Nev but bonhomie doesn't pay the bills or make false dreams come true.

Honest confusion

kiwip: I put it down to honest confusion - I think I accidentally started it by pointing out that Mr Davies#2 basically was going to try the same plan that hadn't worked for his 3 predecessors Mr Farry, Mr Davies#1 and Mr Burden ... Mr Farry didn't run DVML but he headed up the organisation that had preceded it, the CST, while many of its staff (including Mr Burden) went on to work for DVML. [abridged]

Drama Llama

Gee Digger. What a load of tripe. We all gather that you are annoyed, but a "victim"?

Iconic Eastern orthodox events

Take your icons to town and wave them at the Unorthodox. Have icon processions with holy icons.

Pro complainer pressure

The pressure on our revolving door DVML CEO's is not just from people who opposed the stadium. It is also from people who wanted the stadium but find problems there themselves with the sound, service, poor facilities etc. We have heard them whining about these things like kids who can't get their toy to work.

LOL

I was really enjoying this article and genuinely laughing at it thinking the good ole ODT had fooled us all again, I then realised there was still four days until the first of April, now I can't read it for the tears. Someone change the record please!

Just curious

Who was the fourth CEO - David Davies, Darren Burden and now Terry Davies only make three in my books.   Someone buy the anti-league some calculators . . . 

You're allowed to complain

Not at all.  You're allowed to complain, and I'm allowed to be welcoming and cheerful to counteract the complaints. 

Are you serious!

Digger are you seriously comparing yourself and the other dozen or so anti-everything crowd to battered wives and husbands?

Surely a new low from the negative crowd here in Dunedin.

Shame on you. 

I give him a year (or less)

How long was the averages for his previous counterparts when they chucked in the towel having realised it was beyond all hope?

Well, good luck mate, and don't let on, but most of us don't wear rose tinted glasses, and you surely won't after a while. We're nice people, we just don't like being lied to, and undemocratically forced to pay for something that's well proven as a white elephant, taking money that could go to far more worthwhile causes around the city. Plucking rabbits from a hat is a good attempt - we've heard all that before.

Four CEOs in two years since it opened somehow makes a statement.

Nice to complain

NEV: A touch sad that you see people who complain about anything as not 'nice'.This is a subservient attitude on your part. Like battered wives or husbands, we feel we have a right to ask questions and demand answers in terms of victim impact on us as ratepayers.

Who is doing the hiring?

Another sportsman with one year of stadium experience in another country is not going to solve the problem for DVML. We need a heavy duty PR group that can get bums on seats, that has the knowledge of communicating with promoters and agents in other countries. I'm not seeing this in his history.

Welcome to the 4th stadium CEO

I wish you well. Our city is struggling with debt and can't afford two many concerts a year at our white elephant stadium as things stand. Why? Such events losses just add to the huge debt ratepayers already have to carry.   If you can somehow turn this around then you would have to be congratulated. If you can't then you are as those before (with the best intentions) just administering an increasing liability instead of a promised asset.

You are now the fourth CEO in not so many years. Proof enough that the promoters of this staduim didn't have a clue or working buisness model to produce their promisted profits. The assurances they gave are viewed by many as almost criminal. The stadium has turned out to be a very well predicted financial disaster by many in this city.

I feel you have an impossible task. Hope you can show us the promised profits.

All the very best.

 

 

Good luck with the new role

Mr Davies comes in full of enthusiasm, as one would expect. The role he has taken on has proven to be a poison chalice for those who have preceded him. They were never helped by the lies, spin and creative accounting coming out of the DCC offices. Ratepayers have rightly been offended due to the endless stream of bad news and losses generated over the past two years. I am pleased he will meet Bev Butler because this will give him some perspective on how unhappy many of us have been with the stadium debacle. I do hope we as ratepayers finally get to see the true financial picture, face up to the truth, and then work together as a community to see what we can do to stem the losses. Without Council giving him the opportunity to provide transparancy, openess and honesty to ratepayers Mr Davies has no hope of success. By showing he wants to look at all sides of the argument he has already begun his tenure in the right way. I do hope he recieves the support from Council and the community he will need to succeed.

Welcome

Welcome to Dunedin Mr Davies.  I hope you like your new home city.  Looking forward to a positive future with the stadium.

PS: Shh, don't let on, but we're actually pretty nice people - not all of us complain, and some of us actually quite like the stadium.

Transparency

Jonny Ruffo would be an international act ;) Transparency would be nice - tell the rate payers how much you lose on a concert and what the act is paid to even turn up.  Otherwise this is simply more hot air from an overpaid civil servant.

Best hope to break even?

Four million in rent seems quite cheap to me. They're getting it for a song and saying the best hope is to break even. He's given up before he's even begun. 

Big concerts

How many big concerts (more than 20 000 people) does Mr Davies think Dunedinites want to go to? I'm not interested in music or sport. I might (or might not) go to Nitro Circus, but he would be lucky to get me to go to one event a year. I suspect the average Dunedinite might go slightly more than that, but not enough to make the place work.

A population of 120 000 is just too small for such a venue to be successful. 

deja vu comments by Terry.

Terry Davies comments with their mixture of hope and hyperbole sound eerily familiar to those of David Davies and Darren Burden at the same point when they embarked on the DVML CEO job. 

Wish him luck

I also wish him luck. I would love to be proved wrong about the stadium, as I am sure everyone who has over the years criticised it would also like to be proved wrong. As far as his statement goes - "DVML's finances would remain challenging as long as it had to pay $4 million in rent each year to service stadium debts." - I hope he is not saying/suggesting that DVML shouldn't have to pay the rent or should pay a reduced rent. As the rent is already less then they should be paying to cover the debt it owes to the ratepayers of Dunedin.
However, I do agree with him that Dunedin needs to create "some iconic events" " festival of concerts". Dunedin does not have a lot of festivals etc each year. So there is nothing to drag people from the rest of NZ to our city to spend their money and enjoy what we have here. Maybe if we could have big summer and a winter festivals each and every year. Festivals that would get people from all over NZ to attend. Along with a number of smaller ones for spring and autumn, maybe a few music festivals each year ( jazz, blues, rock n roll, etc) - something you don't see else where in NZ through out the year. A beer festival mid-year for the students etc..
I am not saying that these things would fix the problem, but maybe they would bring money each year to help offset what we the ratepayers have to fork out. These are all things I would attend and support. But this will most likely never happen and I am only dreaming, and as long as I live in Dunedin will always have to help pay the way for the DVML.
What I do know is the rugby alone will not pay the bills and relying on big name concerts will never work without having a lot of other things going on throughout the year to help offset the costs.

Same old same old

So his plan for stadium success is the same as Mr Farry's, and Mr Davies#1's, and Mr Burden's - 4th time's the charm, I guess.

I'm sure my business  would make a lot more money too if I didn't have to pay for the rent, or the maintenance, or the rates, or the insurance. Mind you, if DVML stops paying the minimal $4m rent perhaps they could start paying the $5m+ from luxury seat sales that was earmarked for paying off the short term stadium debt.

On the other hand, any sort of transparency from  DVML is most welcome. I suggest Mr Davies#2 start with publishing the contracts DVML has with the ORFU and the Highlanders so we can see where out money is really going. Then perhaps he could explain what's happening to the money from luxury seat sales that seems to now be disappearing into a financial black hole somewhere, and not being remitted to DVL as per the original stadium plan the council voted on.

The new broom

Has no one told the third D (a Davies, a Darren and now another Davies) that this venue is not suitable for concerts?

Every concert that has been held there has suffered with sound problems and will continue to do so unless the roof is covered or removed to stop the sound bounce.

I dare say you will be gone within 12 months, like those gone before you when figure out that you can't make it work either.

And by the way, good luck getting the majority of us to embrace it as you will never be able to fix the way it was foisted upon the ratepayers, no matter what you do. 

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