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GFS Associates, of St. Petersburg, FL, USA, has signed an agreement with Astana Sports and Management Group – part of the Astana Presidential Sports Club in Astana, Kazakhstan – to provide management services for the city’s new 12,000-seat Barys Arena, which is part of a larger sports complex now under construction. The news was announced by GFS Associates’ President, Michel F. Sauers, earlier this week.

Sauers said the Arena’s first hockey game will be held on October 27, when the hometown Barys Astana hockey club of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) takes the ice in its new home rink.

Yerlan Kozhagapanov, President of Astana Presidential Sports Club, said:

We are extremely pleased to now have the resources of Mich Sauers and GFS Associates to provide us with guidance and experience in all of the important areas of design, management and customer services. Our mission is to make Astana the sports centre of Kazakhstan. This spectacular new arena and the events it will showcase are just a part of a larger sports venue that eventually will focus worldwide attention on our city.

Sauers added:

This is a great opportunity for GFS Associates and our efforts in the international arena. We will bring the Astana Presidential Sports Club a broad spectrum of management services that our company personnel have accrued and perfected during their many years in the public assembly venue industry. We look forward to an outstanding and fruitful professional partnership with Mr. Kozhagapanov and the Presidential Sports Club.

Sauers advised that the state-of-the-art Barys Arena has 60 suites, four concourses, a centre-hung video scoreboard, two ribbon display boards, three outdoor video boards, a 300-person restaurant, full technical support facilities, video production facilities, multiple team locker rooms and dressing rooms, and the ability to adjust the dasher board system to accommodate both international and NHL hockey games.


About Astana Presidential Sports Club

The Astana Presidential Sports Club was created in 2012 to bring together under a single management umbrella all of the major professional sports organisations in the country and to provide first-class facilities in Astana in which they can play and perform.


About GFS Associates

GFS Associates provides management and consulting services for venues of all sizes and functions, including development, operations and administration of stadiums, arenas, convention centres, expo centres, amphitheatres and sports complexes.


The second edition of our ‘live’ event, the Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific conference and exhibition, took place September 28-30, 2015, at the Singapore Sports Hub’s Indoor Stadium and was lauded ‘an overwhelming success’ by all in attendance.

The 17th event for Stadia & Arena, the event was hailed a “really great conference” providing “invaluable contacts”, with nearly 500 high-ranking attendees representing just under 30 countries, including Australia, Cambodia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, India, Japan, Kingdom of Brunei, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States, for 2.5-days of networking, learning, knowledge-sharing and doing business.

One of the 50+ industry-elite speakers, Jason Hill, General Manager – Commercial at the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, commented:

I was impressed with the operation… and enjoyed the experience immensely. Best of luck with 2016.

Delegate Masa Hayafuji, Assistant Chief – Stadium Development Group of the J-League (Japan Professional Football League), said:

I just want to show you my great gratitude for inviting me to the conference. It was great experience and I met a lot of people in this industry because of your support.

Another speaker, Greg Turner, General Manager at the STU Sports Park, commented:

…thanks for hosting the conference and everything you did to help organise it. I found it immensely useful and must say I wish there were more such conferences in the region.

Look forward to next year in Japan and hopefully I can present an updated case study on the Sports Park and what we are trying to accomplish there!

Literally billions of dollars’ worth of global sports venue projects were represented at the event, including groups currently involved in new major sports projects around the region. Those included Sports City Malaysia (hosts of the 2017 SEA Games), the Cambodia National Stadium, Haryana Cricket Stadium and Kai Tak Stadium Hong Kong, in addition to global venue operators and facility managers. Developers behind major new sports projects in Australia, China and New Zealand were also in attendance.

Jason Ng, Executive Director of MP Singapore Pte Ltd, our local event partner, said:

As more major international sporting events are held in the Asia Pacific region, there is an increasing need for venue management professionals to gain a better understanding of effective management and utilisation of sports facilities. Stadia & Arena 2015 created that opportunity. We are heartened by the many discussions and sharing of real-world experiences amongst the community.

Over 80 delegates attended a special ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the Singapore Sports Hub on the opening day.

The event kicked-off with an exclusive ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of the Singapore Sports Hub’s facilities, which more than 80 delegates took advantage of. The tour was followed by the event’s Official Opening, with welcome speeches from Alad Chairman, Alan Levett, and Jason Ng, Executive Director of MP Singapore Pte Ltd, and rounded-off with a Regional Market Report that detailed the many projects currently under construction, in the planning stage or being proposed in Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.

Day II saw the start of the conference in earnest, with 50+ industry elite speaker sessions covering all aspects of sports venue design, operations, revenue generation and fan engagement. The day’s proceedings were brought to a close with an evening networking reception in the exhibition hall, which allowed delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors the opportunity to chat in a more informal setting.

On the exhibition floor, which sported more than 40+ industry-leading exhibitors, attendees had the opportunity to network and meet with experts from across the entire spectrum of products and services for sporting events and venues, many of whom were exhibiting in Asia for the first time.

The event finale on Day III gave all visitors the chance to hear an insightful Closing Keynote from the Disney Institute’s Senior Facilitator, Wing Tan, during which he explained how as leaders in the sports industry it is important to understand that your fans are your ‘guests’ and the interactions they have with your stadium employees and third-party vendors will impact the overall fan experience.

As an alternative for delegates with a primary focus on Sports Turf, there was a special local site tour to learn about the importance of proper artificial turf maintenance from SMG Sportplatzmaschinenbau.

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SMG Sportplatzmaschinenbau laid on a special local site tour to advise delegates on the importance of correct artificial turf maintenance.


With cities and countries from across Asia Pacific playing host to a plethora of major sporting events, including the 2017 SEA Games, 2018 Winter Olympics, 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Summer Olympics, 2022 Winter Olympics, 2022 Asian Games and 2023 SEA Games, plans are already well underway to host Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2016 in Japan. So please watch this space for further details…and keep checking back both on this website and the show’s website at:

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A comprehensive review of the Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015 event will be available in the 4th quarter/Showcase Special edition of PanStadia & Arena Management magazine, which will be published later this year.

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Nearly 500 attendees networked, knowledge-shared, learned and conducted business during Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015.


AEG Facilities to run Wembley Arena following Competition go-ahead

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AEG Facilities has had its application to run Wembley Arena approved by the UK’s Competition Commission. The completion of the 15 year deal with owner Quintain Estates and Development plc sees AEG increase its offering of live entertainment and sport in London in top venues along with its five-year contract for outdoor concerts and events in Hyde Park.

On the announcement, Rod O’Connor, Executive Vice President, AEG Facilities, Europe said:

Wembley Arena holds a special place in the hearts of music and live entertainment fans. It enjoys fame on a global scale and we are delighted to welcome it into our portfolio of elite and iconic venues and to have the opportunity to support it with our experience in operating many of the world’s most successful live events venues.

Quintain’s Wembley Park estate is currently undergoing a remarkable transformation and we are proud to be a part of a development that will not only benefit fans, but also the local community. This deal marks a new chapter in Wembley Arena’s illustrious history and we are committed to delivering the very best experience for fans, artists and partners.

Purchased by Quintain in 2002 as part of a deal in which it bought 44 acres of former exhibition lands around the old Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena sits at the heart of Quintain’s ongoing project to revitalize Wembley Park with the creation of new shops, homes and leisure facilities. The agreement with AEG will attract many more live events and people to the area who will enjoy the world famous venue alongside other new attractions including the new 4* Hilton London Wembley Hotel, which opened last July, and the London Designer Outlet – the first of its kind within the M25 – which will open on October 24th.

James Saunders, Chief Operating Officer at Quintain, said:

This is fantastic news for Quintain and for London, the biggest market place in the world for live music. AEG is the world’s leading venue operator and we look forward to AEG bringing the world class content, world class customer experience and the operational expertise they have demonstrated at The O2 to the iconic and much loved Wembley Arena. The new partnership with AEG comes at an important time for Quintain, just 8 weeks before we open London’s newest retail destination next to Wembley Arena – London Designer Outlet. We can now offer visitors to the Arena a much more rounded experience with shopping, dining and even a stay overnight at the Hilton London Wembley. The two attractions combined should drive over 8m visitors a year to the Wembley Park area, creating jobs and many new exciting opportunities.

AEG’s application to run Wembley Arena was passed to the Competition Commission in March and then provisionally cleared in July before receiving the final approval in September.

Venue operations manager for EURO 2016 required

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UEFA is advertising for a Deputy Country Manager to manage venue operations for EURO 2016, starting 1 October.

The post will be responsible for successful implementation and running of the facilities and services necessary to deliver in four venues, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse and Bordeaux (pictured).

Full job specifications available from UEFA.


VMS 2013 open for enrolments

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Enrolments are now open for the 2013 Venue Management School (VMS). Managed by the Venue Management Association (Asia and Pacific), the 2013 School will be held from 10-15 November at the Intercontinental Resort, Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast.

The School provides students with a TAFE New South Wales Diploma qualification and has international associations, having been adapted from the Oglebay (International Association of Venue Managers VMS) model to suit the local industry.

Course instructors are drawn from the ranks of senior venue managers in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Asia along with other those with specialist skills.

To enrol contact Maria Lamari:

The UK Venue Managers Association (UKVMA) has announced a new management team for day to day operation of the organisation. The new board will comprise Neil Levett, Noel Jeffs, Michael Cunnah and Konrad Start. Start will be overseeing the Association’s day to day operation.

UKVMA provides a platform for managers of multi-purpose venues, including major sports, music events conferences and exhibitions, to meet and discuss solutions to real and potential problems. It is also a forum for leading suppliers of products and services to the venue industry to regularly discuss, explain and demonstrate direct to influential end-users, as well as through the UKVMA website.

Chairman, Neil Levett said:

This is an exciting time for UKVMA. A number of new initiatives will be introduced over the coming months and the partnerships being developed between UKVMA and other parties can only lend themselves to more benefits and opportunities for UKVMA members.

UKVMA board at a glance

Konrad Start

Konrad Start

Based in London, Konrad has over six years of experience in the stadium industry working for PanStadia Publishing. After a first career in finance, Konrad gained a Football Industry MBA at Liverpool University, including a dissertation on Membership Schemes. Subsequently he worked for British Tennis as its Membership Manager.

Michael Cunnah

Michael Cunnah

Michael is an experienced sports business professional who specialises in reviewing strategies, business and financial plans, new stadium development plans, stakeholder relationships and marketing/commercial plans. He was the man responsible for overseeing the redevelopment of the new Wembley Stadium. He has worked as CEO and Finance Director of The Football Association and was Chief Operating Officer at Aston Villa.

Noel Jeffs

Noel Jeffs

Noel is President of the the UK Venue Managers Association, establishing the association as a market leader and knowledge base to help continuously develop and improve industry standards and best practice. See press release…

Jeffs has over 30 years of facilities and event management experience in the sport and entertainment industry. He directed the operational design and opening of the new Wembley Stadium ensuring regulatory compliance and licencing and was responsible for the planning and staging of more than 100 stadium concerts, in addition to international and domestic sporting events.