Showtime at the Aviva – Leinster Getting Ready

Over 40,000 Leinster rugby fans have bought their tickets already for Saturday’s big game at the Aviva Stadium in the Heineken Champions’ Cup.

The number will rise over the next 36 hours as the countdown to kick-off approaches and given the investment in new technology at the stadium for Euro 2020, the experience is likely to be an unforgettable one.

Sport for Business dropped by Leinster Rugby HQ at UCD during the week to find out how the team of those charged with putting on the show are getting their final preparations all done.

Orlagh Ní Chorcoráin doubles up from her role of Marketing Manager to serve as Event Controller and expects to be at the ground for a minimum of twelve hours on Saturday.

“We have a nice rhythm to what we do for fans at the RDS from Autograph Alley to the Fan Zone and everything is nice and controlled being no more than five minutes apart from each other.”

“The Aviva is a whole different ball game in terms of size and over the years I have found every possible short cut to get from A to B.”

“I tell you the number of steps I take on a matchday there is off the charts, probably more than the players will do on the pitch but it is more comfortable now knowing it as we do and the Matchday team that the stadium itself has on-site are just brilliant to work with”

“This 5-15 kick-off is the best we can hope for,” said Head of Commercial and Marketing  Kevin Quinn. “Giving people the time to do everything that they do on a Saturday and still have time to get to the ground comfortably is a big thing and while the times are controlled centrally and with an eye to TV schedules this is the winner for us.”

“Ticket sales have been tracking really well and every bit of hospitality bar one remaining box has already been taken up.”

“We have encouraged a number of our own family of sponsors to come together in shared boxes and that works really well too in terms of a sense of being in this together.”

“It is always important that we do well from a commercial point of view from the two games we know we will play at the Aviva, this weekend and the Munster game which is in April next year.”

“In a World Cup year where the early season is competing against the International team to a greater degree than normal, it is even more important but fingers crossed this time around is looking good.”

“IRFU box holders have the first option to take up hospitality and we have Bank of Ireland that take over the Havelock suite for their guests.”

We were joined by Head of Media Marcus Ó Buacahalla who is also looking forward to the extra space and facilities that the Aviva affords.

“We had six TV crews at the RDS last year for the Toulouse game and it was almost impossible to squeeze everyone in. Some of the media were given seats in the stand as the interest in the game was just so big.”

“There is massive interest again for Saturday but we have the facilities to accommodate them.”

Turnaround

This year there has been time to get into the stadium through the week. The shortest turn around was 24 hours from an FAI game on Friday night.

“We made that work but it was tighter than you’d ideally like so having this longer turnaround, being able to do the Captains Run and all, is optimum,” said Ní Chorcoráin with a visible sigh of relief.

The EPRC has a strict template on how grounds look through the competition but during the pool stages, they leave it to the host club to manage how that is implemented.

“They are there on-site but until the knock-out games, they are happy to leave things to us. The Aviva is obviously a lot bigger and with a lot more space to dress but the experience of having done it time and again over the last seven years means that we know where our marks are and what needs to be done.”

“This year we do have access to some of the new technology that has been put into the stadium. It will be a more dramatic light show that fans will enjoy in the moments leading up to the game and we will be doing a dry run of that on Friday, just in case anyone sees a lot of flashing light coming from the stadium.”

“It was never possible to turn the floodlights on and off as part of a show before but that can happen in seconds now so we will be able to turn the stadium dark before teams out and make it very dramatic.”

“You definitely don’t want to be in the bar when it’s on. The light sequence set to music is one minute and twenty-five seconds long and it will be surrounded by drummers we have live on pitchside.”

“It is a real collaborative effort between the tournament, us and the stadium,” said Ó Buachalla. Everyone wins when it looks and feels great. The Aviva is out there competing for global events and having a brilliant showreel of the kind of show it can put on is clearly a winner for them.”

“We have everything timed to the second from about half an hour in the run-up to 5-15. That includes content on the screens, music in the bowl and player appearances at the different points around the stadium.”

“We have our own videographer Gavin on the team now and he will be capturing the big set-piece moments but also the things that catch his eye that can turn into the real winning pieces of content.”

“We will be sharing those across all our social media channels and the job is to create a sense of experience for those who can’t be there which will mirror in some way the thrill of being right there in the ground.”

“We work closely with the team at Sportsfile and we are turning around visual content live to show people just what it is like to be there.”

There won’t be an opportunity at the ground to buy a Leinster jersey for Christmas. Elverys Intersport has the stadium franchise but Life Style Sports is the exclusive retailer so it will have to be online if the moment moves you to upgrade in time for Christmas.

Kids and Teams

Kids and teams are a big part of the crowd on Saturday. There are special offers for teams to host their Christmas party and they will be arriving from across the province by car and bus. Tullamore brought the whole club by train a couple of years ago, the Tullamore Express, and because the game is part of the annual schedule it has become a real thing for many to attend collectively.

The off the field team will be at the ground on Friday and from 10 am on Saturday. There will be run-throughs, technical spot checks and everything prepared so that it goes really well.

“We will have a team of ten,” said Ní Chorcoráin. “Marcus, Conor, Ryan and Gavin from the media side, Mia and I from operations, then Gary who looks after hospitality, Kevin and Shane will be looking after the sponsors and Clare and Niamh will be there from ticketing.”

“We will have 250 fans for the Blue Room experience in the Vavasour Suite Mike McCarthy is coming over as the MC on the day and that will be fun. We are also hosting the Towns Cup draw from 3 30 pm and that’s a big thing for the Province at grassroots.”

“Everybody has their roles and knows where they need to be. We may not be as visible as the players but the satisfaction in doing our job as well as we can will be just as strong.”

“It’s a brilliant day. The teams from the stadium and the IRFU are fully on board as part of the team and even though it will be manic, it will be great fun as well.”

 

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Image credit: Sortsfile

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