Big acts pay off

22:00, Jan 28 2014
Billy Connolly
RETURNING TO NEW ZEALAND: Scottish comedian Billy Connolly.

Concert venues in Marlborough are working hard to convince promoters that a trip to Blenheim is financially lucrative.

Floorpride Marlborough Civic Theatre and Ticketdirect Tasman general manager Alana Cairns said it was all about "getting the numbers" for promoters.

The Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 and the new ASB Civic Theatre, under construction and set to open next year, would help the region attract larger shows, she said.

Ms Cairns had been working overtime to make the stadium's ticketing for the Billy Connolly show on May 9 similar to other venues on his 12-city tour, offering "reserve premium" seats in addition to general admission.

She had also been in talks with two or three other promoters interested in coming to Blenheim, she said.

Ms Cairns hoped to have the dates and venues, including another show at the stadium, confirmed in the next month.


Auckland Samoan tenors, Sol3 Mio, were expected to sell out their 1500-capacity gig at the stadium on March 19, she said.

"Now it's a matter of showing promoters it is worthwhile coming to Blenheim because you can get the numbers."

Connolly announced his return to Blenheim yesterday after his original venue in Nelson, the Trafalgar Centre, closed late last year because of earthquake risk.

Ms Cairns said she was still working on finalising details, like providing a bar, with promoters and the stadium.

The show had no interval with Connolly on stage for "two-and-a-half-hours straight", she said.

"We are hoping to have [a bar] for customers."

Connolly's Blenheim show fell on the same weekend as the St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon, she said.

"When we talked dates with the promoter one of the things I said to him, ‘there will be an extra 5000 people in town that weekend'. The town is going to be alive, accommodation is going to be stretched but it will be good for the town."

Marlborough District Council regional events co-ordinator Susan Witehira said she planned to talk with half marathon organisers about creating package deals that weekend.

Getting people to Marlborough and making them stay an extra night benefited the whole community, she said.

"That's really exciting and what good timing. A lot of it is getting the word out to promoters," Ms Witehira said. "We have to talk to them and say, ‘have you considered Marlborough?' It was the same with Stan Walker [who played at the stadium in September last year]. We worked hard to convince promoters to come here and that was his fourth-highest selling gig in New Zealand, behind Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. That's pretty impressive considering he wasn't even coming here."

It was hard to make people from Blenheim travel to Nelson for a concert unless it was huge, she said. "[Promoters] sit in offices in Auckland and think people will travel but in reality they don't. We need to show promoters we can support events ourselves."

Tickets for Connolly's High Horse Tour, in Blenheim, go on sale on February 7 through Ticketdirect. Early-bird tickets for Ticketdirect members, paid for by Visa, are available from today.

The Marlborough Express