New Zealand’s stadiums are struggling to see the financial benefit of opening up and operating while the country remains at alert level 2 for COVID-19 restrictions.
There are four different levels of alert in New Zealand, with level 2 meaning live events and sports are affected because they can have no more than 100 people at a time in one space.
Nigel Skelt, general manager of ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill, New Zealand, has said that it is difficult financially for the venue to open in the current climate.
While New Zealand was in alert level 2 last year, staff divided ILT Stadium Southland into three, four or sometimes even five different areas. This means that the venue could host different events with 100 people in each section.
However, due to the problems imposed by the Delta variant of COVID-19, restrictions in level 2 are slightly tighter. This means that the venue has only been able to split into two spaces – the velodrome and the main area. Only 50 people are allowed in each, which means some sports teams have been able to train.
Skelt told Stuff.co.nz: “We are a community facility, and we have a responsibility to the community to be open. It’s not about the dollars, it’s about the community.”
The loss of the stadium’s larger events have resulted in financial loss, including a charity ball, a concert for singer Stan Walker and the ILT Darts Masters.
The comments come after New Zealand’s snap lockdown in late August and early September, which led to the cancellation of the country’s Winter Games.
At the time, Nick Sautner, chief executive of The Eden Park Trust, which encompasses New Zealand’s largest stadium Eden Park, was more positive. However, he did admit that it is “disruptive” and that stadiums can only really operate in level one – which means there are no imposed restrictions, only intensive testing and rapid contact tracing.
Sautner said: “While we are prepared for the lockdowns and understand them from a safety point of view, there’s no question they are incredibly disruptive.”
He added: “The reality is that the stadium industry is one of the few industries that can only operate under level one.”