Attendance at this year’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix has been capped to ensure organisers can appropriately cater and service the event.
With tickets for both Saturday and Sunday of the Grand Prix sold out, a near record crowd for this year’s event is predicted.
Yesterday it was confirmed that Saturday general admission tickets had been sold out, following on from the race day allocation being exhausted in February.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss Andrew Westacott foresees that trend continuing following a spike in interest after last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
“We expect that we’re going to have one of the biggest aggregate crowds in the history of the event,” he said.
“We won’t surpass the opening round numbers in 1996 of 154,000, but we expect to have about the second or third highest attendance on a Sunday, possibly the highest attendance on a Saturday and a Friday.
“Maybe that also moves into Thursday as well as we move closer to the event.”
However, the event won’t top 1996 attendance figures because of a cap placed on numbers in an effort to ensure those who do attend can be adequately catered for.
Already the AGPC has expanded its grandstand offering, while its recruitment drive for staff to support the event is still ongoing.
“One of the things, in recent discussions with our three hospitality providers, is that we’re okay at the moment [in terms of staff],” Westacott explained.
“But as the numbers are going up, normally we’d have the recruitment of the workforce completed by now – 16 to 20 days out.
“What we’re finding now is the recruitment is going all the way up to the event.
“Hence the reason why we’re capping the attendances at 125-130,000 level [so that] the experiences we’ve got are going to be first class.
“We want to make sure the service deliveries are to the world class standards expected of Formula 1 and expected by every Melburnian.”
The Australian Grand Prix is one of the major pillars of Victoria’s major events calendar, which also (typically) includes the Australian Open tennis, Melbourne Cup, AFL Grand Final, and Boxing Day test.
“What we’ve learned is that there are labour shortages all over the economy, and we’re doing whatever we can to try and ensure that we have enough staff, but the fact is that lack of international students, lack of skilled visa holders, it is making labour shortages across the economy something that we have to contend with,” added Martin Pakula, Victorian Minister for Sport, Tourism and Major Events.
“What I’d say to people who might be looking for some additional hours, you won’t get a more exciting place to work than down here [Albert Park] over that week.
“Labour shortages are a real issue. We wouldn’t expect anything like what happened at the footy. But there’s no doubt that it is tight.”
Last week, Melbourne Cricket Ground boss Stuart Fox issued an apology after fans endured lengthy delays for food and drinks at the AFL season’s opening game.
“Like so many hospitality businesses and venues in Australia, the MCG is struggling with staffing shortages,” Fox said.
“As a result of this shortage we made the difficult decision to close selected bars and food outlets.
“We understand the frustration that this causes for members and the resulting issues of increased wait times and queuing.
“As a club we pride ourselves on our exceptional service.
“We know that last night the experience for many members did not meet this expectation.”
The Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix takes place in Albert Park on April 7-10.