Justin Bieber shut down the Sydney CBD. Imagine what will happen when Oprah arrives!
When I heard Oprah Winfrey is coming to Australia for a series of shows and specials, I immediately thought about the security and crowd control implications. Australians are very into big events and these can easily get out of control.
Apparently 75,000 Australians have registered for tickets to Oprah’s shows. The Sydney Opera House forecourt can cater for an audience of 3,000. This indicates that Oprah’s down-under show program will be fraught with difficulties.
The managing director of Tourism Australia, Andrew McEvoy, described the rush for seats for two shows in the forecourt as overwhelming and said he ”wouldn’t be surprised if it’s bigger” than 75,000.
”[Oprah’s production company Harpo] haven’t released the numbers to us other than to say that there has been no end of people trying to get tickets.”
Winfrey will bring an audience of 300 and 150 crew with her to Australia. Mr McEvoy said a significant number of those seeking tickets through the ballot were from overseas.
”Between ourselves and Harpo and the Opera House, we’re thinking about how do we get the best possible audience at that incredible venue … there’s discussions around what can be done to maximise that opportunity.”
In April this year, Justin Bieber shut down the central business district of Sydney when thousands of screaming, hysterical girls turned up for his free concert at an outdoor venue close to where the Oprah will present her shows. The concert was cancelled and fans had to be content with a compromise concert in the Seven Network TV studios near Martin Place.
There is no way Oprah could fit her proposed audience into one of the concert halls inside the Opera House. Many notable events have been staged in the forecourt to cater for big crowds:
….. Sydney’s new year’s eve celebrations
….. Australian Idol finals
….. The homecoming of Jessica Watson – Australia’s solo teen sailing circumnavigator
These are just a few examples.
So just how are Oprah’s producers and the Sydney Police and security forces going to manage this event? Will they need to bring in the Army?
Sydney Opera House forecourt – security and crowd control nightmare
The Oprah event is clearly a logistical nightmare with plenty of issues to be resolved regarding security and crowd control. Just how that will be handled is anyone’s guess. To cordon off outdoor venues like that at the Opera House is difficult. Let’s hope something suitable can be arrange to ensure the safety of Oprah and those who are lucky enough to get tickets to see her show.
If I had been staging such an event, I would have chosen Acer Arena. It is out in the suburbs and doesn’t have the visual appeal of a harbourside vista, but it is a large capacity indoor venue where huge crowds can be contained. Mega rock bands U2 and Bon Jovi will perform there during their forthcoming Australian tours.
It is all very well to choose a venue with a similar name (Oprah/Opera), but is this a sensible option in view of the looming problems. It will be interesting to see how the Oprah plan develops.
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