2005 was a milestone year for three venues


The 2005 year saw many significant achievements at the three venues, including a world ranking, profitable results, and a change in company shareholding. Retiring Executive Director Mike Kelly said it was one of the most satisfying years in his 30 year career with public venues.


World ranking

The Westpac Centre was ranked 10th in the world for venues under 10,000 seats for gross ticket sales in 2005, by industry magazine Venues Today. It marked the culmination of a sustained effort to encourage promoters to bring large acts to Christchurch.


“This is a stunning result that puts us right behind North American centres with far greater population hinterlands to draw on. It is the only venue outside North America inside the top ten,” Mike Kelly said. “This annual industry carries considerable impact and will consolidate Christchurch’s position as a “must play” venue on international tours.”


“For a relatively small arena, with just under 8900 seats, in an even smaller market that is challenged geographically, and after converting our sales into American dollars, we are still placed ahead of some traditional industry leaders – and we are the highest ranked venue outside North America. This really is a huge achievement in the global entertainment industry.”


The 2005 performers who drove the ticket sales were Cher, Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, R.E.M., Mark Knopfler, Norah Jones, Moody Blues, Dido, Velvet Revolver, Crusty Demons, Edgefest and Black Eyed Peas.



Making money

Another highlight was returning $1 million to the venues owner, the Christchurch City Council, as a result of successful management that has seen the cost of running the public operations at the venues slashed over the past decade – from a starting deficit position of $2 million. Mike Kelly said it was slower than he would have preferred but there were considerable start up costs of the Convention Centre and Westpac Centre.


Company changes

The company name was changed from NCC (NZ) Ltd to Vbase Venue Management Group Ltd after Christchurch City Facilities Ltd (CCFL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Christchurch City Council, bought the 50% shareholding held by NCC Management and Development Co Ltd (Bangkok). The new chairman of the board is CCFL appointed Bruce Irvine, with CCFL directors Hanlin Johnstone and Simon Mortlock.


With the departure of Mike Kelly on 28 December, and the resignation of Sales & Marketing Director Cathy Hemsworth (30 June), the replacement positions, now in the process of being filled, will have a different focus. The new CEO and Marketing Manager roles will combine Jade Stadium into the venue mix. Jade Stadium is managed by Jade Stadium Ltd, another City Council company.


Innovations at the Convention Centre included Telecom’s wireless hotspot service, enabling fast speed online access for downloading files, answering emails and accessing business information without using a dialup connection.


Other highlights


·         The appointment of Andy Gibb as Executive Chef in May.

·         The four day TRENZ 2005 meeting which showcases tourism products was held at the Westpac Centre, and the in-house catering won considerable acclaim for the fresh flavours, innovative menus and their presentation.

·         The Town Hall hosted 15 different productions, concerts and performances including a season of Canterbury Opera’s Tosca during the biennial Christchurch Arts Festival (20 Aug – 5 September).

·         Banner display celebrating the performing arts in the Town Hall.

·         Two special ONSTAGE editions of the newsletter, devoted to the resident performing arts companies.


And we can be pleased with the things that didn’t happen, Mike Kelly said – we didn’t have any security alarms, emergency management situations, civil defence disasters, weather damage, crowd control issues or conflict situations.


“Maybe we were too busy doing a great job!”