Seven Ropes In Promoter To Save Stadium

Seven Ropes In Promoter To Save Stadium, by Annie Lawson - 5th April 2002
Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald

The Seven Network has recruited music entrepreneur Glenn Wheatley to secure a strong line-up of entertainment events for Colonial Stadium in an attempt to revive its flagging fortunes.

The money-losing stadium plans to triple the number of events on its calendar during the non-footy season by putting on extreme sports, opera and popular music acts.

The stadium's operator, the Seven Network, has taken a 50 per cent equity stake in Mr Wheatley's Talentworks promotion business. Seven's new media and investments head, Steve Wise, and colleague Mark Jarman were also appointed directors of Talentworks last month.

Colonial chief executive Ian Collins said the stadium had staged only about six to eight events in the past year. That included Austereo's Rumba concert.

"We've had a number of entertainment events in the off-season but not to the level that we would like," he said.

He said the stadium operators were in talks with Opera Australia about staging an annual event.

It is hoped the Talentworks deal will improve the stadium's dire financial situation: it posted a $225.4 million loss for the year to June 30. This followed a $155.8 million writedown on the carrying value of the facility, valued at $400 million when it opened in early 2000.

Seven has assumed management control and effective ownership of the facility to resurrect its fortunes through a $75 million pre-payment of a 23-year lease.

The benefits of the network's expansion into Mr Wheatley's entertainment and promotions business are expected to flow through to Seven's investment in ticketing agency Ticketmaster7.

Mr Wheatley, who is finalising the arrangements for John Farnham's national tour, said the deal would also accelerate the expansion of Talentworks.

He conceded Colonial experienced serious teething problems when it first opened as a music venue because of hiccups with the sound system.

"I think Colonial got off to not the best start and tried to get the facility working before its time," he said. "It's a matter of people getting used to it."

Mr Wheatley will work with Colonial Stadium to devise annual events exclusive to the venue that will cover a range of music genres, sports and other forms of entertainment.

He said there were enormous cross-promotional opportunities with Seven's diverse media spread that included TV, online and magazines.

"We are looking across the board at events that could convert into TV and also brings in PMP," he said.

Mr Wheatley will draw on his strong network of music contacts and plans to lure other national and international promoters on board.

He said the deal gave Talentworks access to Seven's online, accounting and legal resources. Talentworks principal shareholder is Tripicity, a company whose directors include Mr Wheatley and his wife Gaynor.


Sydney Morning Herald Online (provider of Mediaman news feeds)

Talent Works

Seven Network

John Farnham official website

Opera Australia official website

Music Managers Forum Australia


ABC - Inside Business - Wheatley keeps on rocking - 29th June 2003

The Great Aussie Promoters, by Greg Tingle