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Community operations

Damian Bush, senior director of venues and events management at the Singapore Sports Hub, discusses how it’s possible to monetize stadia between non-sporting events by attracting visitors through community use.

At the Singapore Sports Hub we are a vibrant collection of venues across a 35ha site. Imagine it as an Olympic Park but one which operates year-round and hosts over 200 events per year under one operator. These venues include our 12,000-seat indoor stadium, 3,000-seat aquatic center, indoor sports hall, water sports center, sports museum, sports library and a 41,000m² shopping mall.

At the center of this is the 55,000-seat stadium, which has held many iconic events since opening in 2014. These include playing host to soccer teams including the Brazil national side and club sides Juventus, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Bayern Munich, as well as top music acts such as Madonna, One Direction, Jay Chou, Coldplay and many others.

The National Stadium in Singapore is similar to many other venues around the globe that don’t have anchor teams and regular sporting tenants. Yet, with a mixture of athletics and family entertainment we still hold over 40 events each year. 

Community use has been a topic of recent conversation, addressing the age-old problem of how to use and monetize your venues when you don’t have event days. For many venue businesses, this is not a business model consideration but at our Sports Hub we are always looking to drive forward participation and footfall to help sustain our ecosystem, and one way has been to utilize the National Stadium for non-traditional event day use and turn it over to the community.

Rarely are modern stadia designed for community use as it’s a challenge for architects to design everything for everyone. In Singapore, we have pushed design boundaries with moving seating tiers and a moving roof stadium with a cooling system for patrons, as well as an IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) running track, plus an ability to stage cricket too. 

When it comes to the community event conception we have to be creative and the ultimate goal alongside participation is income to help sustain such initiatives. This has been achieved through the creation of a dedicated Experience Sports team who engage the community. Weekly workout sessions and fitness programs combined with community play days have attracted 415,000 participants since we started business.

The community play day is a concept from within the team that provides recreation and play across all demographics. This consists of mass workouts, running step challenges, basketball training camps in the stadium, futsal, markets and much more. Last year we saw 16,000 visitors in one day at the stadium.

We also have opportunities to involve our other venues and benefit from the success of the National Stadium activities, such as themed carnival and water play days utilizing our water sports and aquatics centers with their outdoor features and fitness events. This involves extensive overlay, which is offset with corporate sponsorship and then supported through our national media and local partners.

Later this year in August we will be hosting a Youth Festival where every venue of the Sports Hub precinct will be activated for the event – a very unique proposition of integrated event delivery.

With approximately 2.4 million event attendees each year and a footfall generation of over nearly 12 million per annum helped predominately by our retail mall offering, it’s clear we generate healthy numbers to sustain our Sports Hub venture. It takes investment and some creative thought but it’s possible to bring visitors to some stadia in a less than conventional way and provide a return on your investment.

June 13, 2018

 

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