Daily Archives: September 19, 2012

DScene: Serious crowd safety issues at Forsyth Barr Stadium

Following the All Blacks v South Africa rugby test on Saturday, Mike Houlahan, editor and writer for D Scene, highlights crowd safety issues at the Stadium.

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### D Scene 19 Sep 2012 (page 6)
D Scene Editorial: Act now to avoid stadium injuries
By Mike Houlahan
Forsyth Barr Stadium management got lucky on Saturday night after people were left bruised by a human logjam under the Mitre 10 Mega Stand at halftime in Saturday’s All Blacks v South Africa rugby test.[…]If there had been a crush, medical staff would have had severe problems getting to injured people. It also raises the question of how easily patrons could have evacuated the stand in a genuine emergency.
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### D Scene 19 Sep 2012 (pages 3-4)
Stadium looks at rugby test crowd problems
By Mike Houlahan
Forsyth Barr Stadium management have vowed improvements will be made after long queues and a potentially dangerous halftime crush under the Mitre 10 Mega stand spoiled the first All Blacks rugby test at the new venue for some patrons. Thousands formed a mass scrum at halftime trying to get to bars, food outlets and toilets under the Mitre 10 Mega stand. Unlike at the other end of the ground which has permanent toilets underneath, patrons must shuffle the whole length of the narrow passage. For many, getting to the toilets and back took 20 to 30 minutes. Similar-sized crowds were in the stadium for the Rugby World Cup matches last year, but on those occasions RWC volunteers directed traffic.

Stadium chief executive David Davies said all issues with the game would be discussed at a debrief, including whether the addition of extra seating for the test had caused problems.

“If we had further stewards would that have made it easy? I’m not sure, it’s another set of bodies. But what we will do is look at the design for similar loading again.” Davies suspected a combination of factors led to Saturday’s problems. “We have had full Zoo attendances [the designated Scarfie zone] at other matches but didn’t have the same issues,” Davies said. “I think there were a couple of influences on Saturday that had we had the benefit of experience we would have done differently. Unfortunately, all over the stadium there were jams on the concourses resulting from people remaining in their seats to watch the presentation of the Olympians which we fully understood and supported. What that did was condense halftime down from 15 minutes to about eight, because people remained to pay their respects. Then people who wanted a drink and a comfort break all left at the same time rather than it being spread out.”

Davies said the stadium had come a long way since the Elton John concert and the Rugby World Cup, and was being better managed.

“We have taken on board constructive criticism we have received. We won’t be resting on our laurels, but Saturday was relatively quiet. Police were telling us they had 11 incidents with the public and the vast majority of the crowd were well behaved.” #bookmark #bookmark

Comment received at What if? Dunedin…

Anonymous
Submitted on 2012/09/19 at 7:23 am

The ForBarr stadium design is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The exits from the stands cause an immediate crush at the food outlets as people queueing cross those heading for the toilets. This happens in all of the stands. Ironically, the East stand (which has toilets but lacks food outlets) is the best.

This isn’t noticeable in normal use as the stadium is never full and does not have a boisterous or violent crowd. The design can cope with up to 15K crowds, but more than that is dubious. In an emergency, the best way to avoid the crush would be to get onto the pitch and wait for the groundsman to throw you out.

I posted concerns during construction several times, in particular, the fall hazard from the North Stand where at the ends, there is an unprotected fall of 15m.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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