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'Wasn’t sufficient': Eden Park reveals truth behind Taylor Swift's NZ snub

Lillie Rohan,
Publish Date
Fri, 16 Feb 2024, 7:26am
Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

'Wasn’t sufficient': Eden Park reveals truth behind Taylor Swift's NZ snub

Lillie Rohan,
Publish Date
Fri, 16 Feb 2024, 7:26am

Taylor Swift’s Australian leg of her Eras Tour is hours from kicking off, and while many Kiwis will head over to one (or multiple) of her seven shows, questions remain as to why she isn’t coming to New Zealand. Eden Park’s CEO Nick Sautner has (some) of the answers. 

Swiftie hearts all around New Zealand weren’t ready for it last June when it was announced Taylor Swift was leaving Aotearoa off her Eras Tour schedule. 

At the time, the snub was rumoured to be because the country didn’t have a big enough venue to host her nearly 90-metre-long stage, other theories claimed she wouldn’t have been able to sell enough tickets to cover the cost of bringing her extravagant tour here. 

Now, with hours before her first Melbourne show kicks off, The Eden Park Trust’s chief executive officer Nick Sautner speaks to the Herald, weighing in on the matter and debunking any theories that it was an issue of space or financial viability, “Eden Park has proven it can accommodate any stage or production and 60,000 fans” he notes, adding he has no doubt the venue would have “sold out multiple shows”. 

So, what does the CEO believe the reason is behind the decision for Eden Park not to host the star? Sautner claims it ultimately came down to resource consent. 

“In 2020, our resource consent permitted Eden Park to hold up to six concerts in any 12-month period,” Sautner says. 

He explains that the limit itself isn’t exactly an issue, but rather they are finding that promoters are more often than not requiring multiple concert dates to accommodate demand. 

“Our current consent doesn’t make this possible, which means artists are bypassing New Zealand and fans are missing out,” he says. 

Nick Sautner, chief executive officer of The Eden Park Trust.Nick Sautner, chief executive officer of The Eden Park Trust. 

With Pink’s two shows on March 8 and March 9 and Coldplay’s three shows on November 13, 15 and 16, it leaves Eden Park with only one concert slot this year. Considering the Grammy winner is playing seven shows across two Australian venues this February, Sautner says: “Clearly, this wasn’t sufficient to host Taylor Swift.”   

As well as Australian venues catering for larger crowds - an estimated 75,000 Swifties per Sydney show and 86,000 fans per Melbourne show, Sydney’s Football Stadium’s concert quota was recently increased to more than double Eden Park’s, allowing 20 concerts per year. It’s a business model that proves difficult for challenging for Kiwi venues to compete with, Sautner says. 

“If a hotel could only operate once a fortnight it would be incredibly challenging to deliver a business model that is commercially viable. This is our current reality at Eden Park, with restrictions imposed that don’t enable us to operate to industry expectations.” 

Taylor Swift's Eras Tour stage is estimated to be 75 metres long, with an additional 10 metres backstage. Photo / Getty ImagesTaylor Swift's Eras Tour stage is estimated to be 75 metres long, with an additional 10 metres backstage. Photo / Getty Images 

The venue also needs to consider the duration of concerts in any conversations - as the parameters of Eden Park’s resource consent means shows need a scheduled finishing time of 10.30pm, something that may have been too difficult for Swift to commit to. 

For example, the star’s Melbourne shows kicks off at 6.30pm with Sabrina Carpenter as the support act. Carpenter’s set is estimated to go for 45 minutes, meaning if Swift begins her three-and-a-half hour show at 8pm, the earliest she would finish is 11.30pm, already one hour too late for Eden Park. 

Despite there being no Taylor for Eden Park, Sautner says the venue is excited for the year ahead. As well as being New Zealand’s premier concert venue, hosting globally renowned artists including SIX60, Billy Joel, Guns N’ Roses and Ed Sheeran over the years, they have some great events for Kiwis to enjoy in 2024 including Pink and Coldplay. 

For sports fans, Sautner says: “The All Blacks will be taking on rivals England in July and Argentina in August and the Black Caps will play Australia in two T20 International cricket matches later this month. We also have Blues rugby, A-League football, NZ domestic cricket and community events that people can look forward to experiencing at New Zealand’s national stadium.” 

As for Kiwi fans heading over to Swift’s concerts in Australia - and those who aren’t, the Herald will be on the ground on opening night in Melbourne, with a first-take review from the first show and following along for the hype. 

Show schedule 

February 16, 17 and 18 - Melbourne Cricket Ground 

February 23, 24, 25 and 26 - Sydney Accor Stadium 

Lillie Rohan is an Auckland-based reporter covering lifestyle and entertainment stories who joined the Herald in 2020. She specialises in all things relationships and dating, great Taylor Swift ticket wars and TV shows you simply cannot miss out on. 

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