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Claudelands Oval named New Zealand's Best Venue

Transforming a green space into an outdoor concert venue has earned the team at Hamilton’s H3 group a top national award.

Claudelands Oval was named Best Venue 2021 by the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA) at their annual awards function last night. This comes after Claudelands Oval had an impressive debut as a concert venue in February last year when it hosted a 25,000-strong crowd for Six60 Saturdays.

Taking out the title ahead of other venue finalists Whanganui War Memorial Centre for the 2021 Downer New Zealand Masters Games and Christchurch’s Haere-roa for NZ Antarctic Science Conference, Claudelands was praised by the award judges for its “first foray into largescale outdoor concerts, which was a complex undertaking with multiple stakeholders in the mix”.

“The Claudelands team rose to the challenge and proved themselves to be agile and thorough – delivering a hugely successful event in a previously underutilised outdoor space. Six60 Saturdays was a great example of a venue working for all of its stakeholders,” they said.

Managed by Hamilton City Council’s H3 team, Claudelands Oval has been the venue for Hamilton’s annual A&P Show and Waikato Show for many years, as well as other recent events like Relay For Life and 4 & Rotary Nationals. However, the space is most commonly used for on-site car parking during large events at Claudelands Events Centre and GLOBOX Arena.

Sean Murray, Hamilton City Council General Manager of Venues, Tourism and Major Events, says transforming this large greenspace into an outdoor concert venue required the H3 team to reimagine and redefine its vision for the area.

“It was very much a blank canvas when the idea first came about – the beauty of a large outdoor space like this is you aren’t constrained by the four walls of a traditional indoor concert venue so this gave us unlimited scope to play with,” says Murray.

“Ensuring Claudelands Oval lived up to the vision we had for it as a concert venue required our team to think creatively in order to determine the best configuration and overlay all of the infrastructure required, as well as proactively engage with the client, partners and stakeholders such as neighbours to ensure all of their needs were fully understood and met.”

After its successful debut for Six60 Saturdays, Murray says the H3 team look forward to hosting more live music at the award-winning Claudelands Oval.

“There are definitely plans in the pipeline for more outdoor concerts at Claudelands Oval so watch this space,” he says.

Other Hamilton events recognised at last night’s NZEA Awards include Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2021 which was a finalist for Best Arts or Cultural Event 2021 and Balloons Over Waikato which was shortlisted for Best Community or Not-For-Profit Event 2021.