Settled in Auckland, we could not spend a week more without paying a visit to the historical Eden Park Stadium. It’s just a dream come true for rugby fans like us!
Blues v Crusaders
This weekend, counting for the Super Rugby round 14, the Crusaders headed to Auckland to fight the Blues, at the Eden Park. Super Rugby is the professional competition of the Southern hemisphere, gathering teams from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Africa and Argentina. The Blues, local team of Auckland, aren’t in a good shape. Indeed, they lost all five of their home games and counts ninth defeat in 12 matches. “Everyone beats the Blues but we still love them” as I was told by an Auckland enthusiastic fan.
We became brand new Auckland Blues’ fans
Rugby in the southern emisphmere, and particularly here in New Zealand, met all our expectations. Always looking to move the ball, impetus, smart actions, offloads, physicality… All the assets of the All Blacks were part of this game. Watch as an example this Blues nice try at the 49′ : Blues go left where they have numbers, Collins shows quick hands to find Ioane who runs with a classy finish in the corner. Try !!!
The athletes seem to get the kind of physical preparation one would expect from great champions. You can see it with the strengh of the contacts. The supporters were following each and every action, holding their breath then shouting with passion to boost their players.
It was not enought to save the Blues with the Crusaders who dished out a lesson in clinical finishing (24-32).
Let’s go to the Eden Park
As we talked about the game, let’s now focus on our experience at the Eden Park stadium.
Reaching the stadium by bus is quite easy! The ride is free for people who have their tickets – always a good idea to reduce jams around the stadium and encourage the use of public transports.
Arriving in front of the gates, volunteers were here to guide the visitors. We had to reach the ticket office to buy our precious piece of paper. And here happened the first surprise of the night: a guy just gave us two tickets he won at a lottery during the day and will not use. What a chance!
Time now to enter the perimeter of the stadium. We were surprised to see how quick it is. Compared to the security checks we are used to in France, this was so simple.
Love at the first sight
Mindblowing is our first feeling reaching the top of the stands. Huge, silent, under a pouring rain and empty. Yes, I did not mention we had rain during the whole game and that the first rows of the stadium are not covered… kind of funny part of the fan experience!
Eden Park Stadium for BLUvCRU
Second sight, our “expert eyes” are surprised to see that there is no decoration or branding for the teams (only the stadium sponsors). It’s true that the Blues are not the owner of the stadium. They could have asked for temporary signage, but maybe did not for financial reasons. We have to investigate !
Good Fan services
People started to arrive half an hour before kick-off. We had time to walk around the stadium. We really liked the historical panels displayed over the stands reminding the great sport events at the stadium.
Historical panels in the corridors
The amenities for the fans are great in this stadium. There is a lot of different food stands that smelled relly good (not only fat). You can buy cold beers from huge fridges. You have access to free and nicely designed water fountains.
High quality customer services at the stadium
And surprising thing, the shop is selling a lot of different merchandising but not only of the home team, but also of the crusaders, in the same space.
Merchandising shop selling the 2 teams’ items
Finally, we have to say that we really appreciated to see (for once, compared to France, sorry…) so clean and huge toilets, even for girls. And that’s a important part of the visitor experience !
A special fan experience squad
Two different squads of personal hosted us at the stadium. Some volunteers, orientating people, giving them flags and other goodies in the alleys. The stadium staff, well signalled with blue and orange uniforms “Fan Experience Event Staff”.
The dedicated fan experience squad
Few animations for the fans
Only few animations were displayed before and during the game. The famous “Kiss cam” and a fan drop attempt on the pitch during the half time, also broadcasted on the sreens at the food stores. Few interventions of the speaker. Some flames to celebrate the Blues’ tries. A simple presentation of the players on the screens before coming to the pitch and no “honour tour” by the players to thank the fans after the game as we are used to in Europe.
The sport presentation was quite different with the use of the screens to watch again litigious actions that would have never been showed in France or to broadcast the toss and the coaches tables. That was nice and made the fans react !
Lets’ play with the news
We do have to enhance a really nice activation of the stadium linked with hot news. Indeed, the game was played a few hours before the royal wedding in England. An upgrade was offered to the fans coming in a wedding dress, masks of Harry and Meghan were distributed, some fans danced a “flash mob” wearing the masks and LED messages congratulated the couple during the game. This was quite fun and smart as everybody here was talking about THE event of the weekend.
Activation about the Royal Wedding
Let’s come back soon
By the end of the day, we completely loved our first experienced at the magical Eden Park. Despite the rain, despite the lack of entertainment for the fans, this stadium has the basics: a great game, high quality services, clean and convenient infrastructures.
We can’t wait to come back for the All Blacks against France game to see another level of fan experience in a crowded Eden Park and a boiling hot atmosphere!