Interview with Anthony Mundy, Operations Director, Emirates Old Trafford
In this latest industry interview, Katie McIntyre gains insights from Emirates Old Trafford’s Operations Director, Anthony Mundy, on the day-to-day running of the venue, and hears about the GBP£60m development that will peak with completion of the new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel next month, rounding off the world-class offering at the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club.
What are the main challenges when it comes to managing and operating the multi-purpose venue that is Emirates Old Trafford?
As with any multi-use facility, we have a number of different stakeholders, with differing needs and requirements, all of whom we have to keep happy. At Emirates Old Trafford (Emirates OT), this means working with the different conference and event customers, concert goers, sports fans, the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), the local authorities, police, staff, the board, etc., all of which have different needs in terms of their events and requirements, so we’re constantly having to think about how to deliver these. For instance, we might have a cricket match as well as an event at The Point all on the same day, but obviously these are two very different audiences, with not only very different needs and expectations, but also two different sets of regulations for us to deal with, i.e. regulations around stadium safety, in accordance with our stadium safety certificate.
In addition, this summer, will see the opening of our brand new, 4-star, 150-bed, Hilton Garden Inn hotel, which will benefit from 80 pitch-facing hotel rooms with balconies that can be transformed into Corporate Hospitality Suites/broadcast boxes for events like concerts and big One-Day International’s (ODIs).
How has the venue been performing?
Over the last 10 years, we have invested in a £60m redevelopment of Emirates OT, the completion of which will be signalled with the grand opening of the Hilton Garden Inn this summer. The hotel scheme was significant, costing £15m for the demolition of the old hotel and building of the new, but it was central to our business plan to drive our conference and events business.
The original on-site hotel only offered 68 bedrooms, so we lost a lot of business to hotels in Manchester. The main driver for the new hotel is to be able to double our events income over the next few years.
All the money we make, we reinvest back into cricket.
Having only just completed a major £60m redevelopment programme, which areas do you plan to develop over the next 2-3 years? And what are your main objectives in terms of optimising Emirates OT’s future performance?
The venue’s owners, the LCCC (Lancashire County Cricket Club), were loss-making 4-5 years ago, but we’ve been able to turn things around, and it is now a profit-making business. This is because whereas we once relied predominantly on attracting and hosting international cricket, which meant peaks and troughs, to fill our coffers, it is now our conference and events business bringing in the main revenue.
Moving forward, 2019 is going to be a massive international cricket year for us, with the venue having been awarded the honour of hosting both Cricket World Cup matches and The Investec Ashes Test Match. Whereas before we would have been reliant on international cricket events like these in terms of revenue, these are now the icing on the cake!
In addition, having the new hotel – which was privately funded, and will be owned and operated by the LCCC under a franchise agreement with Hilton – pits us in a very strong position, and is due to open this summer. The 80 pitch-facing balcony rooms will be able to fulfil Corporate/Sky Box duties during matched, before being transformed back into hotel rooms for corporate and hospitality guests.
We have a full summer of events, from the War of the Roses clash on July 14, to The One Love Manchester, Ariana Grande concert held on the 4th June. The benefit concert, held in memory of the victims of the 22nd May attack at the Manchester Arena included a star studded line up, from Ariana herself, to Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Katy Perry and Liam Gallagher to name but a few.
This followed the earlier Courteeners concert, held just a week before which saw 50,000 fans descend on the pitch. Emirates Old Trafford is no stranger to hosting internationally acclaimed acts however, having previously hosted Beyoncé and Rihanna concerts in summer 2016, and a host of others in the preceding years.
With the new and improved conference, events and hotel offering, we are having to mobilise everything as a new business. Thanks to our high profile sponsors, such as Emirates, Hilton, Heineken, AO, this all means additional kudos for the venue.
The next stage in the venue’s reinvention will focus on non-match day revenue and investing in the cricketing side of the business to ensure that we have the best cricket facility in the country…and perhaps in the world!
Emirates OT was recently shortlisted for a number of top industry awards, including two categories in the CHS Awards and one in the ‘Best Non Sporting Use of a Venue’ category in the Sports Business Awards. How important are such awards and what role do they play?
Generally, in terms of Awards, we take these very seriously and enter as many as are realistic. It’s all about raising awareness for our new hotel and the now complete offering that customers and clients can expect from their next event at Emirates OT. It’s all part of our wide marketing strategy, plus it gives fans reassurance.
Can you describe for us the facilities now on offer at Emirates OT?
Emirates Old Trafford is not only home to LCCC but also a world-renowned cricket and events venue. The multi-functional space means the venue can welcome both domestic and international cricket, as well as hosting a range of conferences, events and even global musicians for concerts, including the likes of The Courteeners, Beyoncé and Rihanna.
The venue has a capacity of 25,000 for sport and 50,000 for concerts, with best-in-class facilities not only for the UK but globally. Despite being 150 years old! In fact, Emirates OT has been used as the blueprint standard for others, with even a delegation from Lord’s having toured the venue.
In terms of facilities, we can cater for up to 2,000 across a multitude of events, from small meetings to large exhibitions. The high end space is fully supported by dedicated and in-house services, such as event duty managers, IT support and experienced event planners.
With over 3,600m² of space, 43 meeting rooms, 800 on-site parking spaces, amazing transport links and our soon-to-open 150-bedroom Hilton Garden Inn hotel on-site, Emirates Old Trafford is an event organisers dream.
Opened as a cricket club in 1864, Lancashire Country Cricket Club is steeped in history and this is clear to see throughout some of Emirates Old Trafford’s unique venue spaces, including within the Pavilion. Combining the finest traditions of English cricket with modern, high end hospitality, the award winning Pavilion – alongside The Point – has made Emirates Old Trafford a leading conference and events venue in the North West.
Originally built in 1895, the Pavilion underwent an intensive £7.5m redevelopment that was completed in 2013, and now offers a host of spaces, which can accommodate up to 700 guests/delegates across eight suites and nine executive boxes.
Similarly, our flagship venue, The Point, which opened in 2010, offers a blank canvas to inspire creativity and can host a wide range of events including dinners, conferences, exhibitions, weddings and much more, with capacity for up to 1,200 covers. With natural daylight and uninterrupted panoramic views of the world famous cricket pitch from its seven metre high windows and stunning balcony, The Point makes for the perfect destination to hold any event, whether business or leisure.
How important is knowledge-sharing between peers? And is it something you welcome/encourage?
Cricket is a very open industry, we regularly share operational and construction-based data. Safety Officers from up and down the country meet every quarter, as do Groundsmen, those involved in venue/event operations, and many more.
We believe in sharing ideas on best-practices and any non-sensitive commercial data. And a number of cricket stadiums use the same consultants. We want to be the best-in-class, so that means learning and knowledge-sharing with our industry peers.
When it comes to sustainability and ‘green’ initiatives, what technologies, best-practices are you employing at Emirates OT?
The redevelopment, including the hotel, all feature ‘green’ technologies, like rainwater-harvesting, DMS controls, LED lighting, including automatic on/off, ventilation systems and CHP (combined heat & power) systems. In terms of pitch irrigation, we use bore holes and use the harvested rainwater to water the pitch.
We’ve also introduced a new souvenir cup initiative this year, which significantly reduces the amount of waste tonnage.
What role does technology play at Emirates OT and which trends, technologies, etc., are you currently tracking?
In terms of the CWC in 2019, the ECB will equip all host venues with in-stadium Wi-Fi to allow for services like in-seat F&B ordering. The stadium will have Wi-Fi throughout the bowl and I understand the ECB are currently tendering for this.
Looking forward, Wi-Fi and app technology will be key in terms of monetising secondary spend and will open lots of doors. We’re currently using POS software from Verteda but are also considering their Q-Jacker application.
Whereas we’ve been focused on the development over the last 10 years, the next big investment will be in Fan Engagement and the Fan Experience.
Huge thanks to Anthony Mundy and all the team at Emirates Old Trafford, which was the venue for The One Love Manchester, Ariana Grande concert, that was held on June 4. The benefit concert, held in memory of the victims of the May 22 attack at the Manchester Arena included a star-studded line-up, from Ariana herself, to Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, Katy Perry and Liam Gallagher, to name but a few.
Main image, top: Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. ODI England v Australia. Picture by Paul Heyes, Sunday September 13, 2015.
Anthony Mundy will be taking part in this week’s Stadium Business Summit being held at Croke Park stadium in Dublin, Ireland, June 22 and 23, at which Sports Venue Business’s CEO, Katie McIntyre, will also be in attendance.