Wellington Scoop

WREDA promotes 12,000 seat arena – for more entertainment

News from Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency
A new WREDA-commissioned report shows Wellington is missing out on large performances, family and sport events because it doesn’t have the right-sized venue.

The report, from sport and entertainment agency Gemba, puts forward the strategic case for a new indoor arena. It looks at the constraints of the TSB Arena, trends in arena development, the competitive landscape, the health of the live entertainment and large event industry, the optimal size of a new arena, and possible options for managing the venue.

Currently the TSB Arena hosts around 40 events a year; that number could almost double to a projected 78 per year if a new 12,000 seat indoor arena was built.

WREDA CEO Lance Walker says the additional events would be worth an estimated $26million in GDP to the region per year*.

“If Wellington wants to continue to attract new entertainment and sporting events, then our venue offering needs to stack up. Whilst the region already hosts plenty of great events, we’re also missing out on large music concerts, family shows like Disney on Ice and Cirque de Soleil, and potentially major one-off sporting events because we don’t have a venue to accommodate them.

“Globally the live entertainment industry is thriving and we know there is audience demand. The sell-out performance of The Killers on Saturday night was one example of that. But while Auckland and Dunedin are seeing growing economic returns in the sector, Wellington is just maintaining our position.

“The aim isn’t just to see more events, we also want more variety. We want large-scale arena events that cater for parts of the community such as youth and families that currently aren’t appearing in Wellington.”

The Gemba report recommends an ideal seating capacity for a new Wellington arena of 12,000, which would maximise new event opportunities.

“The 6,000-capacity TSB Arena is Wellington’s only major indoor venue that supports sport, entertainment and business events. Its size means it doesn’t even really compete with Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin venues, which can hold 12,000, 9,000 and 31,000 respectively.

“When a promoter has an act that can sell double the amount of tickets in Auckland than in Wellington, it’s unsurprising that Wellington misses out on some opportunities.”

If Wellingtonians want a new arena to be built then Mr Walker says a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is an option that could be considered.

“Wellington has some major infrastructure projects on the horizon in addition to the Indoor Arena. Looking at a PPP for this project is an option that has been used successfully elsewhere in arena development globally.”

The report was tabled at a Wellington Regional Strategy Committee meeting today. The WRC, chaired by Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, is made up of members of all the Wellington region’s councils. It is tasked with overseeing WREDA and promoting, supporting and facilitating economic growth in the region.

Key report findings:

Market analysis and expected growth indicates that a new Wellington arena could host up to 78 entertainment events annually, approximately 30 more than the TSB Arena is currently hosting
The recommended optimal capacity of a new Wellington Arena is a scalable 12,000. This would provide Wellington with the best opportunity to compete domestically and internationally for events and cater for the needs of the market
TSB Arena’s capacity limitations are contributing to Wellington missing out on major events. Addressing these shortcomings will allow Wellington to compete within a growing market
Changing music consumption preferences away from album sales to streaming services has resulted in artists touring more often. This means there is more live music events, complimented by a growing family and other entertainment market
A small number of entities (promoters) have considerable control over the live music industry value chain. These entities are increasingly diversifying to include other entertainment offerings such as family entertainment and comedy
New sporting content opportunities are scarce. Basketball and netball provide regular content but this is constrained to home fixtures. Major events provide supplementary content opportunities but are finite, cyclical and subject to competition from other venues


  1. Traveller, 25. April 2018, 17:26

    WREDA’s over-excitement fails to mention the cost. But the DomPost tells us: the indoor arena would cost $200million. Are there really enough Wellingtonians wanting twice as much arena-size entertainments every year? Are there really enough of us who can afford to pay for twice as many costly shows? Justin Lester (quoted in the DomPost) seems to have a better grip on reality when he says: “What it needs is a strong business case to prove viability.”

  2. Geoffrey Horne, 25. April 2018, 20:37

    While cost is an issue, if it can be done in Dunedin it should be possible here. Many aspects of NZ life are split along the lines – one center in the North Island and one in the South. This is almost always to the detriment of Wellington, and unless the powers that be keep their collective feet on the accelerator we risk being outflanked yet again.