Stadium boss gives the green light

ETIHAD Stadium has a new chief executive, and fortunately he knows a thing or two about growing grass. Paul Sergeant, an Englishman with a history of running stadiums and events, has been named as the replacement for the retiring Ian Collins.
Nanjing Night Net

Sergeant, who at present runs the indoor stadium at Homebush in Sydney, has the Hillsong religious group at his venue this week. Last week it was Lady Gaga. In a previous life he ran Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, and even farther back worked at London’s famous Wembley.

He is familiar with Etihad Stadium, for in his Wembley days he was involved with a consortium that bid -unsuccessfully – to build and operate the stadium in the 1990s. ”Look, it’s got a world-class reputation,” he told The Age yesterday. ”When you’ve got people investing millions of dollars into their events, it’s all right having the infrastructure. But you also need the people. It has a world-class reputation on both fronts.”

Sergeant is aware that Etihad has had its issues, notably with its surface in the early days, and more recently after the AC/DC concert in 2010. Fortunately he has been down that road before, for Millennium Stadium also has a retractable roof.

”Watching games on TV, it looks in good condition,” he said. ”But I know how difficult it is to grow grass in an indoor venue. [Cardiff] was exactly the same, challenging to say the least.

”Thankfully, nowadays Etihad have invested in the right technology to help grass grow in what is not a normal environment. The lighting systems that were developed in Europe some years ago are a fantastic investment. Plus it’s one thing having the lights. It’s the expertise in making them work. With these places, it’s not the buildings, it’s the people.”

Etihad is booked for concerts by Coldplay and Madonna in this football off-season, which will leave the AFL a little nervous.

But Sergeant spoke reassuringly. ”It’s making sure you use the right technology to protect the surface, so that we don’t ignore the surface. We can’t afford to do that.”

He starts the new role on October 1. Collins held the post for 12 years.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.