New Zealand’s iconic Eden Park welcomed more than 50,000 fans for its first-ever concert over the weekend.

The famous Auckland rugby venue hosted rock group SIX60 in front of a sell-out audience on Saturday night, which was the first music event in its 118-year history and the biggest music concert since the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020.

The SIX60 concert came three months after Eden Park was granted permission to stage up to six concerts per year – a move seen as essential for the future and economic viability of the venue.

Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner said: “We’re thrilled with how tonight went. It’s fantastic to see so many people here to celebrate the start of a new era for New Zealand’s national stadium as a truly multipurpose venue.

“Getting here has been a collaborative effort between our team, SIX60 and their promoters, Auckland Council and most importantly our local community. We wouldn’t be here without their support and we’re enormously grateful.”

“Tonight has demonstrated why Eden Park is New Zealand’s venue of choice for concerts.”

He added: “Eden Park is New Zealand’s largest, most accessible and well-connected stadium, with excellent transport connectivity, facilities for all demographics and proximity to urban centres where fans can stay, eat and drink.”

Eden Park officials said security and crowd management measures were ramped up ahead of the event, including a 40-per-cent increase in security and enabling a permanent connection with NZ Police’s SaferCities network.

They added that the first concert has already led to investment in Eden Park which will futureproof the stadium for upcoming events, including more concerts and three World Cups in 2022/23. This includes a new partnership with Spark to make Eden Park the only 5G-enabled stadium in a New Zealand, as well as a range of infrastructure projects.

“Concerts at Eden Park provide a much-needed lift to the economy, directly benefiting businesses which have been hard hit by the pandemic,” an Eden Park spokesperson added.

Sautner said that since January’s decision the venue has been inundated with requests from local and international promotors wishing to play the venue when stadium tours begin again throughout Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.

In January, a panel of independent commissioners gave the go-ahead for Eden Park to host music concerts. The stadium had previously been able to host concerts but the Eden Park Trust Board had to apply for approval on a case-by-case basis, a process that could cost NZ$100,000 (£52,000/€60,000/$72,000) and take up to 18 months to realise.

Concerts are now able to take place on weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays preceding a public holiday, and public holidays, subject to restrictions on frequency, duration and timing.