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Talking surprising spaces and the attendee experience with the MCG’s Troy Stasinowsky

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Talking surprising spaces and the attendee experience with the MCG’s Troy Stasinowsky
Like all great event industry professionals, MCG Events’ director of sales and marketing, Troy Stasinowsky knows that food and venue choices can make or break any event experience. Starting his career as a chef working in hotel kitchens in Adelaide, he moved from kitchen to front of house to operations roles in casual and fine dining venues before finding himself in the business events space.

He’s worked with the likes of Atlantic Group and Peter Rowland, overseeing iconic Melbourne venues and events such as ACMI, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Grand Prix, the Melbourne Cup Birdcage and more.

Taking time out post-pandemic, he was ready for a European holiday when the opportunity to work with Delaware North on their non-match day events for the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) came about.

“I didn’t think about it too long. I knew I wanted to take an iconic venue and drive an entire new business events market to it,” he said. “I really saw that the MCG was one of those venues that had the tourism element, they were honed in on leisure with great visitation in regards to sporting events and it had great facilities for business events.”

But it’s the MCG’s unknown spaces that inspired Stasinowsky. While the traditional function spaces are often utilised, it was the venue’s overlooked spaces he felt offered a truly quintessential Melbourne experience.

“I wanted to come in and show that Melbourne is the MCG and the MCG is Melbourne, and there were a lot of spaces people didn’t realise existed here. For example, we have laneways within the car parks that can be activated. We have a rooftop bar facing out over the CBD skyline. We have museums, art galleries with collections of over 150,000 pieces of art,” he says.

Talking surprising spaces and the attendee experience with the MCG’s Troy Stasinowsky

“We have a library that has one of the best views of the sun setting across the skyline. A lot of these things [are] outside what you’d normally expect to find at the MCG.

“We also wanted to focus on the stadium assets and what people can actually access. You can always go down to the change rooms on a tour but you were never allowed to have an event there. You were allowed to go to the boundary, but you weren’t allowed to hold events on the boundary.

“So using the corporate boxes, the change rooms, the coaches boxes, the boundaries, the car parks, the MCG has a lot of different places that you can experience.”

From a planning perspective, he adds that creating a unique Melbourne laneway atmosphere is much easier executed within the grounds of the MCG than working with a council or the city to close down a street. And the same goes for their parklands too.

“We’re one of the inner-city parklands not controlled by a council. The parklands are actually under the control of MCG. So closing down a particular section of the park for an activation is a lot easier than if you were in Fitzroy Gardens for example,” he adds.

Stasinowsky says that while the old adage of creating an end-to-end sensory experience for attendees is the standard, there’s still not a lot of the industry doing it.

“The experience is everything from that whole sense of arrival, but it extends even further to the week leading into the event and the whole experience afterwards. What keeps you anticipating the event before you arrive? And what’s keeping that memory going long after you’ve left the venue?

“It’s creating something that’s unique to its space, location and offering and we’re lucky we get to be in the MCG, that we are iconic. A lot of what’s special about what we do is how we activate the stadium assets, whether it’s the scoreboards or signage, the unique spaces.”

Talking surprising spaces and the attendee experience with the MCG’s Troy Stasinowsky

While event enquiries are well and truly back, he says that a huge growth market for them has been the Indian incentive market, backed by the surge of new accommodation offerings.

“It’s driving a lot more interest in Melbourne,” he says, and that it has encouraged them to collaborate within their precinct. “We partnered very heavily with Pullman on the Park and CENTREPIECE because they complement our overall offering. We’ve done a lot of work in repositioning what was known as the East Melbourne precinct into the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct. Encouraging people to stay, meet and celebrate all within the one precinct because we’ve got the facilities, we’ve got the accessibility and we’ve got the hotel rooms here.”

He adds that the accessibility of the precinct has also helped “because everyone wants to walk everywhere. They don’t necessarily want to jump on coaches anymore and go from the convention centre to the east side of Melbourne and that’s where the infrastructure has been really helpful”.

Following their win at the 2022 Victorian Tourism Awards for Best Business Events Venue and a triple win at the National MEA Awards, he’s optimistic they’re shaking off the notion that they’re a sporting stadium venue and are inspiring planners with their creative and innovative event spaces.

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