Council gives caterer a grilling

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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The council says it will work hard to avoid a repeat of catering problems at the weekend's Bowl of Brooklands concert.

Saturday's Lionel Richie and John Farnham concert was a hit on the entertainment front but concert-goers were frustrated by catering difficulties.

The council would not disclose which company was contracted but the Taranaki Daily News understands it was KDJ, which also provides food and drink at Yarrow Stadium.

Unexpected early crowds, last-minute ticket-buyers and factors behind the scenes left the catering team overwhelmed, New Plymouth District Council manager of events Ron Murray said yesterday.

"Looking back on it now we could have perhaps done a lot better," Mr Murray said.

Mr Murray said the council had discussed the problems with the catering company, most of which were operational, including the number of selling points, whether there was too much choice and what caused delays.

Last-minute ticket buyers were also a nightmare for the council, Mr Murray said.

"You want their business but it makes life really difficult.

"People don't understand the huge challenges it causes logistically."

At the Dame Malvina Major concert the council had the opposite problem when the caterer overprovided and lost money.

Almost 10,000 people turned out to Saturday's concert, but Mr Murray declined to say how many of these were walk-up sales.

He said next time the council would put more effort into encouraging people to buy earlier and would look at offering early bird discounts.

The Taranaki Daily News has received complaints from concert-goers about hour-long waits in the queue only to receive the wrong pre-paid hamper or be told they were not allowed to bring bottles of wine into the front seated area.

People were frustrated at being limited to one bottle of wine per person, meaning an extra bottle of beer required another wait in the line.

The caterers also ran out of plastic cups, leaving people to drink from wine bottles.

The ban on wine bottles in the front area was a promoter request, Mr Murray said.

As for the four-drink-per-person limit, this was a rule laid out in the Liquor Licensing Act which they had to comply with.

Despite the hiccups, Mr Murray was confident the Bowl had plenty of potential to host more big concerts.

"We have to show the promoters we can deliver a good venue, a good audience and a good experience."

He said the council was looking at forming a long term relationship with one promoter so there was more chance of them returning on a regular basis.

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The TSB Bowl of Brooklands had its challenges as a venue, he said. "That park has to be converted into a concert venue whereas when you go to Vector Arena they just plug in and play."

- Taranaki Daily News

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