It's got the widescreen TVs, it's got the beer, and it's a whole lot more fun than watching sport in your living room, Westpac Stadium reckons.
It has spent $3 million on its new Mezzanine Lounge, which combines stunning views of the harbour outside with access to all the live action inside.
Exterior cladding has been removed from the stadium on a 60-metre-long section opposite CentrePort's log farm, and the floor widened by 2.5m, to accommodate the 10m-high windows that flow down to the public concourse to flood it with natural light.
There will be a couple of large-format digital display panels showing sporting events, or possibly screening social media comments from spectators watching matches.
Other features may include high-density wi-fi, a powerful sound system suitable for DJs but separate from the main stadium's audio system, as well as mobile phone charging stations.
Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said tempting sports nuts out of their armchairs was a challenge facing stadiums around the world.
The Mezzanine Lounge, the first upgrade of the public concourse in the stadium's 14-year history, was part of the process to get more bums on seats.
"A large part of . . . [the lounge] is to convince people, to give them a reason to get off the couch and come to the stadium.
"They can come in and have a bite to eat, enjoy an enhanced food and beverage experience to what they currently have."
There will be up to six different beers on tap, and food choices such as burritos and pasta. Beer will be served in plastic containers, marking the start of efforts to eliminate the use of plastic bottles at the ground.
The lounge, which can accommodate up to 700 standing fans, will also be available for functions on non-match days once it opens in March.
It is part of the stadium's masterplan, which has a budget of between $60 million and $80m, depending on exactly what is rolled out.
About $5m has been spent updating player facilities and other spaces ahead of the stadium hosting matches in the Cricket World Cup and football's Fifa Under-20 World Cup, both in 2015.
- The Dominion Post
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