It is more important for fans to arrive early for Wales’ clash with New Zealand on Saturday than it has ever been before.
This weekend’s Under Armour Series match sees the first sold-out rugby event at Principality Stadium since newly enhanced security measures were introduced in April 2017
‘Gates open at 2.15pm… get in early!’ is the message from Stadium manager Mark Williams ahead of the third round Under Armour Series clash.
The sole intent of the enhanced checks is to maintain safety and security for fans attending the stadium, taking into account the current security climate and more specifically UK terror threat levels.
The match-day experience boasts a Haka and the live showing of Scotland versus Australia on the stadium big screens and concourses (which kicks-off at 2.30pm) to draw fans in, alongside ‘early bird’ deals at food and beverage outlets and entertainment at several fan zones inside the ground.
But Williams has warned, despite a positive reaction from fans ahead of the match with Georgia last weekend – who arrived at the stadium earlier to avoid the risk of missing kick-off which had become a reality for some a week earlier at the Australia game – channelling 74,500 supporters through turnstiles in three hours this weekend will be the greatest challenge yet.
“To allow for the increased security checks, we have doubled the amount of time that the stadium is open prior to kick-off, from 90 minutes to three hours, and broadcast this message as widely as possible,”
… said Williams, who was joined by South Wales Police Chief Inspector Steve Jones to address the media at a specially organised safety and security briefing in the Principality Stadium’s central control room this afternoon.
“We have worked things out to the finest detail, we know we can get everyone in safely and securely and ensure they don’t miss a minute of the pre-match entertainment or the much loved Haka and, most importantly, the game, but we need supporters to help us.
“To make things run smoothly we’d like to process more than 30,000 fans in the first hour-and-a-half of gates opening.
“It’s not something that our rugby supporters are used to, but the new security measures are here to stay and have been installed in everyone’s interests, so we are appealing to fans for their help.”
The stadium has been operating a strict search policy for all visitors since last Easter and it has successfully hosted a string of major events – from the UEFA Champions League Final, World Heavyweight Title boxing (Joshua v Takam), back-to-back Coldplay concerts, Justin Bieber, Robbie Williams and the British Speedway Grand Prix – with hundreds of thousands of fans passing through turnstiles.
But, with rugby the staple diet at Principality Stadium, the first UA Series match against the Wallabies a fortnight ago brought new challenges as fans arrived at the ground en masse within 45 minutes of the start – as they have been are used to doing for rugby matches in the past – meaning some missed kick-off.
Williams, who has run Principality Stadium – which is owned and operated by the Welsh Rugby Union – since September 2013 is determined to ensure supporters this weekend learn quickly from their experiences of the previous two rugby matches in the current Series.
“One of the key things for fans to understand is that if you arrive early, the likelihood is that you will get in quicker and, conversely, the later you leave it the longer you may be in a queue and the greater the risk of you missing the Haka or even kick-off,” added Williams.
“Enhanced security has been in place at all events at Principality Stadium since April 2017. The sole intent is enhanced safety and security for fans attending the stadium, taking into account the current security climate and more specifically UK terror threat levels.
“We strongly urge fans to assist us in maintaining a safe and secure stadium by getting in early and leaving large bags and umbrellas at home to avoid unnecessary delays and disappointment.”
Personal searches form only part of the comprehensive measures in place at the stadium, together with safety officers and South Wales Police, all entry points are continually monitored throughout the day.
South Wales Police stress there is no specific threat to Cardiff. Principality Stadium routinely works very closely with the Police and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit to deliver appropriate security measures for all major events.
Key messages ahead of Wales v New Zealand this Saturday:
– Gates open at 2.15pm
– Roads close from 1.45pm
– The earlier you arrive the quicker you will get in/the later you arrive the longer it will take and the greater the risk of you missing kick-off
– Principality Stadium Gates are open three hours early, instead of 90 minutes early, because of the extra security measures.
– Please plan your trip to the stadium accordingly
– Check your tickets and Gate details, remember access to the stadium is 360 degrees, not all gates face the city centre and some take longer to walk to than others