New CEO pre­dicts ex­cit­ing times ahead


John Lynch has re­turned home be­cause of fam­ily and un­fin­ished busi­ness.

John was CEO of Arena Manawatu for four years un­til 2006 and now he’s back for what he sees as ‘‘the ex­cit­ing times ahead.’’

Since manag­ing the sport­ing and cul­tural com­plex, now the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena, John has worked in Auck­land and lat­terly as man­ager of Venues and Events Whangarei, re­spon­si­ble for Toll Sta­dium, the Fo­rum North Con­fer­ence Cen­tre and ex­ter­nal events for the Whangarei Dis­trict Coun­cil.

He is proud of his achieve­ments in North­land where he’s put Whangarei on the map as an events des­ti­na­tion. Dur­ing his time there he’s been piv­otal in de­liv­er­ing and at­tract­ing a Rugby World Cup Test, a rugby league test, a one day cricket In­ter­na­tional, a T20 in­ter­na­tional against Eng­land plus sev­eral other high-pro­file events in­clud­ing wine and food fes­ti­vals.

‘‘The out­comes have been the key driv­ers to suc­cess,’’ he re­flects. ‘‘Events such as these have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the lo­cal com­mu­nity and bring sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the dis­trict.’’

He also be­lieves he stopped a lot of the leak­age to ma­jor cen­tres, some­thing he wants to achieve here in Palmer­ston North. Giv­ing lo­cal peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to see top-level events at home means they don’t have to travel away to en­joy them and spend their money else­where.

Dur­ing his time away John was al­ways aware he was a Palmy boy. His fam­ily is here and he knew that, when the time was right, he’d come home.

‘‘What I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced is a broader range of skills and think­ing and I want to bring that ex­per­tise and utilise it here. I had a sense of un­fin­ished busi­ness,’’ John ex­plains.

He’s the re­cip­i­ent of a ma­jor Mas­ter Plan plus re­views of the Arena com­plex and the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre and his pri­or­ity is to im­ple­ment them and de­velop strate­gies. As part of a bal­anc­ing act he wants to main­tain and en­hance ex­ist­ing users but also at­tract more na­tional and in­ter­na­tional events to the city.

‘‘We’re very busy with 39 dif­fer­ent sport­ing codes who use the Arena but there’s an op­por­tu­nity for more,’’ John com­ments.

For ex­am­ple he’d like to at­tract ad­di­tional ca­sual and pas­sive users. Dur­ing the day the Are­nas have a lot of spa­ces and John and his team in­tend to ap­peal to so­cial groups to use them. ‘‘I want to get that mes­sage out there. Why play net­ball out­side when the weather’s un­pleas­ant. Call us, we’ll make a cou­ple of in­door courts avail­able.’’

John Lynch re­gards the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena as Palmer­ston North’s ‘‘jewel in the crown.’’

He says few cities have fa­cil­i­ties like ours in such a cen­tral lo­ca­tion.

‘‘I want to pitch Palmer­ston North out there so the coun­try knows about our city and what it has to of­fer. It’s im­por­tant to be around the ta­ble when de­ci­sions of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance are made so we can pro­mote our fa­cil­i­ties to the ma­jor play­ers,’’ he says.

While staff at the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre have done an ex­cel­lent job, he says ‘‘we must make it more ap­peal­ing for lo­cal use.’’ He ac­knowl­edges the venue needs fresh­en­ing and up­dat­ing.

‘‘A pri­or­ity is to de­velop a brand to bring peo­ple back and make the con­nec­tion. The word con­ven­tion was ap­pro­pri­ate at the time it was built but not now. In work­ing hard on our sales and mar­ket­ing to pro­mote it to the peo­ple of Palmer­ston North, we must choose a name that they can iden­tify with,’’ John says.

All this in just two months in the job – John’s un­fin­ished busi­ness has be­gun.

John Lynch, re­cently ap­pointed CEO of Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena.

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