G4S and Thomond Park
Home of Munster rugby, Thomond Park was redeveloped in 2007 and opened its doors in 2008. Since then it has hosted a huge range of events – from Munster and international rugby games, international soccer matches and the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony to concerts with performances by Bruce Springsteen, P!NK, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan.
The stadium boasts a capacity of 27,000 as well as an extensive range of conference and banqueting facilities. With such a high-profile reputation and publicity from sporting events broadcast around the world, Thomond Park were looking for a partner that could help them deliver a world-class experience. They found that partner in G4S Secure Solutions Ireland, which provides security and stewarding for all events at the stadium. “G4S have been with us from day one, when we opened the redeveloped stadium in 2008. They stood out in a competitive tender process. I was impressed by their positive approach to the contract,” explains John Cantwell, Stadium Director, Thomond Park. “At that time there wasn’t that many new stadia of our size in Ireland, so G4S brought their UK expertise to the table. A team from G4S in the UK came over that had worked at large stadia throughout the UK and knew how to deliver a truly professional service. What we were looking for was a service provider that could help us deliver a world-class operation; G4S met that remit.”
Versatile G4S deliver world-class match day experience
G4S provide a wide range of services to Thomond Park, including car park management, access management, patrolling of seating decks, playing pitch protection, access control for players’ dressing rooms, monitoring activities at hospitality areas, and VIP accreditation. On match days a team of up to 300 G4S stewards are brought in to manage security and stewarding. Crucially for John, the calibre and quality of the G4S team is consistent across the board and their versatility is a core strength. “G4S operate as part of the stadium team. A group of key G4S staff work closely with our operations manager, planning and preparing for each event weeks in advance. Together they devise a workforce template, which makes sure we have a team to cover everything from pitch management and crowd safety to VIP care, managing the media, and looking after the teams. It’s a real multi-layered job on match day and G4S are responsible for making sure everything goes to plan. Our reputation is built on a positive match day experience for everyone, and G4S help us to achieve that,” says John.
The G4S team don’t just display their versatility on match days, according to John. Events at Thomond vary greatly from sporting events to concerts and corporate events. “Each event has its own unique requirements; different level of workforce and expertise. G4S consistently prove themselves up to the challenge.”
G4S offer the personal touch for concerts
While Thomond Park is the home ground of Munster rugby, which has a busy schedule of matches throughout the year, the stadium has also played host to a wide range of pop and rock superstars including Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart. For Thomond Park, which is located in a close-knit residential area, ensuring these concerts went off smoothly was a priority. “G4S understood our requirements and delivered a personal touch that made sure the concerts happened without any issues from local residents. Their approach was excellent and our promoters, Aiken Promotions, have said that they are more than happy working hand in glove with G4S on all our concerts.”
When Thomond Park opened its doors in 2008 it was unique in Ireland in delivering a professional service at a stadium of its large size. In this environment G4S have shone, helping Thomond Park to become a globally-renowned stadium. Key to the success of G4S is its people, says John.
“We could see how seriously they took the contract from the beginning; their team had expertise working in large stadia. They trained the local G4S staff and stayed until they were happy that everyone had reached the necessary level. Now, key staff that have been working with us since 2008 are still here and they train any new staff. I believe the G4S team could bring their skills to anywhere in the country now; they are second to none in terms of delivering an international standard.”
After eight years of working together, John says the strength of the partnership between Thomond Park and G4S is excellent. “The G4S attitude is ‘nothing is too much’. No one on the team is counting the hours; whatever is required is delivered. They’ve been working with us for so long now that we don’t need to instruct them anymore; they know what needs to be done.”
G4S play a key role in health and safety compliance
Due to the large capacity at Thomond Park, the stadium is governed by strict health and safety regulations. From the beginning, this has been a priority for the team at Thomond Park and for G4S. They worked together developing an event management handbook that provides the detail necessary to safely operate all types of events. “G4S were proactive in putting the manual together. From the outset they understood the strict regulations we needed to operate under. They’re an integral part of what we do in this regard and because they wrote the book with us their team are all up to speed on what’s required of them, for every event,” says John.
Stadium in safe hands with G4S
G4S also provide night security at Thomond Park and they also secure the venue on weekends if there are no events planned. “They’ve provided this service very capably over the years. Suffice to say we haven’t had a broken window or graffiti or any incident in the seven years they’ve been looking after the stadium, which is located right in the middle of Limerick. It’s a testament to the approach of their managers and guarding staff; they look after Thomond as if it’s their own place,” says John.
“We don’t have the luxury to tolerate sub-standard performance. It’s a testament to G4S that I’m speaking in these terms about them. We’ve been more than happy with them; they have gone over and above our expectations,” concludes John.