Mike McKenna, chief executive at Optus Stadium, claims the newly opened venue in Perth will be a “game changer” for live events in Australia.
The 60,000-seat stadium officially opened to the public this weekend, and is due to host its first major sporting event on January 28 – the one-day international cricket match between Australia and England.
More than 110,000 people yesterday (Sunday) flooded the gates of the new Western Australian stadium, which is the first major venue to be built in the country in more than a decade.
McKenna said the praise had been universal, according to the West Australian newspaper.
“We’re hearing that from everyone who is coming here and I think it’s very important that we hear it from the fans that come,” he said.
“You get invigorated by people coming here and you can see on their faces as soon as they walk in the door that they’re amazed and we want to see that look when they go out again, so we know they’ll come back.”
Optus Stadium, which has already attracted shows from international superstars Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift, will, according to McKenna, allow bigger concerts to come to Perth more often.
“If you can put on an event in the stadium and play one concert and as an artist you can make a good amount of money rather than having to play two or three concerts somewhere else to make the same amount, than that’s the trick for artists,” he said.
“Because of course they want to be able preserve themselves and this is an ideal place to draw those acts.”
Though McKenna notes: “It won’t be until people get here and watch cricket, or football, or soccer, or rugby that you’ll experience what it’s really like.
“This place is designed for fans to come here and enjoy the experience, to get here quickly and easily and leave here quickly and easily and have a great time.”
McKenna, formerly an executive at Cricket Australia, was appointed chief executive in September 2016, and will lead the stadium through its opening stage.
“We’ve been preparing to operate it for about a year — we’re here to attract events, sell tickets, give people a fantastic time and then give money to the State — that’s our job and we are ready to do that,” he said.
Last week, it was reported that the Western Australian government is considering going back on an initial decision to issue an attendance cap at Optus Stadium for a potential Big Bash League Twenty20 cricket semi-final.
The stadium is due to serve as the home of BBL team the Perth Scorchers. The team is currently second in the table as the 2017-18 regular season draws to a close, and it looks likely that the Scorchers will have a home semi-final to play on February 1 or 2.
Optus Stadium is due to have a capacity of 55,000 for cricket matches, but last week Transport Minister Rita Saffioti suggested that the attendance would be capped at around 40,000 for the semi-final. Saffioti said the cap would be put in place due to construction delays on the nearby Matagarup Footbridge, which will likely lead to an increased demand on public transport.