IWBI Signature Interview Series: Health Leadership at Eden Park

IWBI Signature Interview Series: Health Leadership at Eden Park

Monday, August 8, 2022 - 8:45am

New Zealand’s national stadium and the home of the All Blacks, Eden Park is a beacon of energy, camaraderie and sportsmanship. During pandemic lockdowns, the cheers fell silent. In order to instill confidence in the space for fans’ triumphant return, Eden Park pursued the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management.

IWBI sat down with Nick Sautner, Chief Executive Officer of Eden Park, to learn more about the stadium’s journey in achieving the WELL Health-Safety Rating—and what it means for fans.

As the CEO of Eden Park, what inspired you to pursue the WELL Health-Safety Rating? In other words, what were the biggest drivers?
We are committed to future-proofing the venue for the generations ahead, and every initiative we engage is carefully considered from both a strategic and an environmental perspective. Choosing to pursue the WELL Health-Safety Rating was an easy decision because it aligns with the Park’s values and priorities. We are delighted to be leading the way in health and safety standards for venues in the region. From improved cleaning practices to emergency preparedness programmes, these built-in building and space features constantly promote the wellness of those who work, visit and play at Eden Park.

Congratulations, again, on the impressive achievement of becoming the first stadium across Asia Pacific to earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating. What does this leadership mean to Eden Park?
Our venue has always placed the highest importance on health and safety, so receiving the WELL Health-Safety seal just confirms that Eden Park is setting the standard for stadium buildings and public spaces across Australasia.

As New Zealand’s national stadium, Eden Park has always been a leader in supporting the health, safety and wellness needs of everyone who visits our venue. This WELL Health-Safety seal recognises these efforts and demonstrates our commitment.

The WELL Health-Safety rating is a symbol of trust that is backed by science, structure and, very importantly, third-party verification. While our community are at Eden Park enjoying a wide range of sports and entertainment fixtures, we’re delighted to offer then confidence in our best-practice health and safety systems and protocols.

How has the stadium shared and celebrated this achievement with employees, fans and the broader community? What reactions have you seen?
A few months ago, we held an official ‘launch’ event to celebrate the venue receiving the WELL Health-Safety Rating achievement. All staff and Trustees were invited to attend. We acknowledge that this recognition has been a collaborative effort – from our Facilities to our Operations to our Health & Safety team, our staff have embraced the process of achieving our rating.

When attending the Park, many event-goers comment or ask about the seals around the stadium. It always brings us great pleasure to tell them the story behind the seal.

There have been many lessons learned from the pandemic; what do you think has changed in the sports sector in terms of prioritising health and safety?
Health & Safety has always been a priority in the sports sector and Eden Park takes great pride in its ability to deliver a safe environment for all event-goers, employees and hirers at the venue. For us, our processes have not changed dramatically; however, there is a greater spotlight now on health & safety due to the pandemic.

Were there any challenges you experienced implementing features and earning the Rating? How did you solve them?
Our most significant challenge was implementing the rating during a COVID-19 lockdown. This limited our ability to collect information, prepare documentation, and obtain photographs in a timely manner; the circumstances prolonged the actual collation of the information required.
As our Health & Safety team were not permitted at the venue as essential workers, we were forced to use our 24/7 Asset Protection Security team, which meant many zoom calls to explain what was needed and where the information could be found. Consequently, they now have a good understanding of the certification requirements.

Are there other wellness and sustainability amenities that you incorporated into your design and operations that did not contribute towards the WELL Health-Safety, but that set Eden Park apart from other stadiums?
In terms of the Eden Park team, we place a strong emphasis on creating an environment that promotes mental health and wellbeing. From holding walking meetings to creating a designated ‘lunch and relaxation space’ we believe in putting our people first. This contributes to the culture we have built here at the Park – one that prioritises our people, our place and our community. This is one way we’re set apart from other stadiums.

In addition, we have a strong sustainability programme led by our Sustainability Manager, Lian Tetley. Eden Park has its own market garden, run by a group of migrant women, and its own community compost system. You can read more about our Sustainability Journey on our website.

What advice would you give to other stadiums interested in pursuing the WELL Health-Safety Rating?
Don’t hesitate! The process is not at all arduous and in today’s uncertain environment, receiving the confirmation that your venue is worthy of the seal is invaluable. World-renowned scientists, public health specialists and industry leaders are encouraging people to look for the WELL Health-Safety seal at their favourite places. Yankee Stadium, the Empire State Building, Texas’ AT&T Stadium and thousands of other internationally acclaimed venues, buildings and spaces have achieved the rating. We’re delighted to now be part of this global community that is committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals in our space, and we’d encourage other stadiums to follow our lead.

Watch Eden Parks’ celebration of achieving the WELL Health-Safety Rating.

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