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Eden Park reflects on ‘year of two halves’

Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand has released its annual report for the year ending October 31, 2021, with chief executive Nick Sautner admitting it was a “year of two halves” as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to influence its events programme.

Year-on-year, Eden Park saw its net operating profit before interest and depreciation increase from NZ$2.941m (£1.4m/€1.7m/$2m) to NZ$6.42m. This represents the strongest financial performance in the Park’s history – a phenomenal achievement considering the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The achievement highlights the importance of a diverse events calendar, including concerts and live events. Eden Park’s net loss (excluding council grants, government wage subsidies and resurgence payments) also dropped from NZ$7.119m in 2020 to NZ$4.304m in 2021.

In its statement, Eden Park said the results continue to reflect the challenge of managing a “significant depreciation charge” due to the underlying high value of the stadium assets.

Although included as income in its financial statements, the council grants were utilised for funding the purchase of key infrastructure assets, including upgrades to the CCTV system, the completion of a new turf platform for the Number 1 field and supporting turf equipment, noise attenuation works, upgrades to lifts and sports lights, and the completion of the stadium’s new superscreen.

COVID-19 led to Eden Park losing three major events: the T20 cricket match between New Zealand and Australia and two All Blacks Test matches against Argentina and South Africa.

Cancellations were offset by the second Bledisloe Cup match between New Zealand and Australia, and the Argentina Test was additional to the stadium’s original allocation.

Eden Park also hosted the SIX60 concert – the first event of its kind at the stadium – and the Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory A-League football match. Eden Park’s Staydium Glamping domes contributed to revenue from non-sporting avenues.

Eden Park said its financial outlook for 2022 is “uncertain”, with the stadium continuing to plan based on limited international travel. A “normal” event schedule is however anticipated from domestic rugby, Super Rugby and international rugby, while Women’s Cricket World Cup and women’s Rugby World Cup matches are also planned within the next financial year.

Additionally, activities such as stadium tours, Staydium Glamping and the new rooftop tour are set to continue, with the venue to also continue operating as a function centre. Stand-alone events such as G9 Golf will also take place, with another SIX60 concert scheduled for April.

“Throughout this year’s annual report, you’ll find images of Eden Park’s greatest moments,” Sautner told TheStadiumBusiness.com. “You’ll see our sporting successes, our community in action, and our first concert – the largest concert in the world since COVID-19.

“But these images are just a snapshot of Eden Park’s last 12 months. They do not show the challenges that our stadium and industry has faced. There is no way to accurately capture the disruption of COVID-19 or the challenges of continued event postponement and cancellation.

“However, despite the hurdles in front of us, our team remains committed to fulfilling the Eden Park vision: to be recognised as New Zealand’s national stadium, providing world-class live events. We continue to innovate outside of our normal parameters and consider ways to give back to the community.

“The pathway to delivering events may be unclear, but we aspire to continue creatively utilising our community asset for the good of our region and our people.”

Image: Will Evans on Unsplash