Stadium sound and wind fixes likely

Steps to improve sound quality, block wind and speed up service at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium could be in place within months, stadium boss David Davies says.

Mr Davies, the chief executive of Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, made the comments in an interview with the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

He said he was pleased with the "really good start" the stadium had enjoyed, capped by 35,500 fans packing into the venue for last Friday's Elton John concert.

However, he acknowledged complaints from some fans about long queues for food and drinks in the North Stand, criticism of the sound quality in some areas, and problems caused by gale-force winds on the night.

Because of that, consideration would be given to purchasing sound drapes to improve the way sound bounced off some of the venue's concrete and steel surfaces, as well as drapes or shutters to block wind, Mr Davies said.

He had already received "invaluable" feedback about sound issues from those involved in Friday's show, but remained impressed with the performance of Capital C: Concerts managing director and concert promoter Phil Sprey.

The question would be whether a business case could be made for the "five figure" - less than $100,000 - investment by DVML, rather than expecting the council to contribute more funding.

"I think in the current climate they would be reticent to sanction further funding... We are going to have to deal with it as a straightforward business case."

It was likely the venue had six months to decide whether to make the investment in sound improvements, although that could change, he believed.

Steps to block wind were needed more urgently, but was "something we are going to have to address", he said.

That came after some Elton John fans in the North Stand, sitting near gaps between it and the East and West Stands, complained about strong, cold wind ruining the experience.

Mr Davies said the problem would need to be addressed "pretty damned sharpish", as well as problems with wind funnelling down the stadium's concourse behind the South Stand.

Those problems would need to be addressed ahead of next year's rugby season, particularly as nights became colder, or risk fans staying away.

"I have no doubt in my mind it's a subject we are going to return to fairly shortly, because it is a customer-facing issue."

The time taken to serve patrons under the North Stand would also be addressed, as it had been the single biggest source of fans' complaints, Mr Davies said.

However, the imminent completion of the New Zealand Academy of Sport building would allow more space for temporary food and beverage outlets under marquees in the area, improving queue times, he said.

Mr Davies said the stadium was still "doing what it said on the tin" despite some complaints, and he was pleased with its performance, and the information gleaned from operating it, over the past four months.




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