#KeepItLocal is the mantra of an experienced venue catering team at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium, which as Arthur Stanley reports, is determined to support local suppliers and employ local talent.
McDonald Jones Stadium has long been famous as the home ground of Newcastle’s two flagship sporting franchises, the Newcastle Knights and the Newcastle Jets.
But it is now also a leading player in the Meetings and Special Events space - offering high-quality catering options for business, community and cultural events in a wide array of rooms and function spaces with views to the hallowed turf.
Matt Anderson is the new Catering Manager at McDonald Jones Stadium and says while the team is always looking to improve the game-day experience, the Stadium has now emerged as a major Conferencing and Hospitality option while providing a unique setting for any special event.
Anderson explains “McDonald Jones Stadium is renowned as one of the best venues in Australia to watch sport and entertainment but its rooms and function spaces also have the ability to hold fabulous indoor functions and events.
“People are often surprised by the wide array of spaces that can host both casual and formal events of all sizes and formats, and now in a COVID Safe manner in alignment with NSW Public Health orders.
“And, of course, when you host an event at McDonald Jones Stadium you are hosting in one of the most celebrated venues in Australia.”
Anderson, who has resided in the Newcastle area for close to 20 years and is a former Chairman of the Newcastle Tourism Industry Group, notes “Newcastle is a rapidly emerging smart, liveable and sustainable city and the catering and hospitality offerings at McDonald Jones Stadium reflect the energy and vibrancy that you now see in Newcastle and the Hunter.”
McDonald Jones Stadium has recently taken its catering operation in-house, with services provided by the experienced event and venue managers at VenuesLive on behalf of Venues NSW.
This is the same in-house catering model in place at other Venues NSW venues, including the highly successful Bankwest Stadium in Western Sydney, ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park and WIN Sports & Entertainment Centres at Wollongong.
Anderson advises “one of the many benefits of the in-house catering model at McDonald Jones Stadium is that it enables us to offer a far more integrated approach to customer experience.
“The catering staff are better able to collaborate with venue staff, which then enables the Stadium to respond to enquiries faster and more efficiently as one team.”
Anderson says McDonald Jones Stadium is determined to offer modern food and beverage menus that meet market price sensitivity without compromising on quality - with a commitment to supporting local suppliers and growers at every opportunity.
He adds “while McDonald Jones Stadium will feature all the footy food staples that fans demand in a major venue, we are planning a food and beverage range that reflects the diversity of Newcastle and the Hunter and considers the changing tastes of consumers.
“We have an absolute commitment to Keep It Local - there will be an exciting range of food and beverage options that highlights the flavours of local operators in the community, promotes local providores, and showcases Newcastle and Hunter region growers, producers and winemakers.”
The #KeepItLocal commitment at McDonald Jones Stadium extends to staffing, with all food and beverage staff within the Catering team, including Head Chef Adam Sullivan, residing in Newcastle or in neighbouring postcodes.
Anderson goes on to say “on game days, we will look to engage with local staffing agencies whenever we need to top up on staffing levels on an event to event basis.”
Retail Manager James Evans is well versed on everything Newcastle has to offer and says he is excited at the prospect of partnering more closely with the local community while adding to the success of McDonald Jones Stadium.
Premium Product Coordinator Aimee Jenkins, who has 10 years of venue experience behind her and is the on-site sales and delivery expert for all Meetings and Special Events at the venue, concludes “McDonald Jones Stadium is very much the place where Newcastle celebrates, whether we are cheering for our sporting teams or attending a function or event. It is the perfect venue for any special event and the Stadium team can now better tailor an event and hospitality package for our clients.
McDonald Jones Stadium is a 30,000-seat rectangular stadium and the centrepiece of the Hunter Venues sports precinct and has hosted several international events in recent years including four AFC Asian Cup fixtures in 2015.
In 2017, the venue hosted the NRL’s All Stars match in addition to the Westfield Matildas versus Brazil international that attracted a then record crowd for a standalone Matildas match in Australia.
McDonald Jones Stadium has been nominated as one of 13 venues to host matches during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Images courtesy of McDonald Jones Stadium/VenuesLive.
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