Bankstown Sports Club
8 Greenfield Parade, Bankstown, NSW
(02) 9722 9888 or www.bankstownsports.com
Paynter Dixon Managing Director Greg Howard has been working with Bankstown Sports Club for over two decades, adjusting the club’s master plan through various stages of its successful expansion into neighbouring properties. The latest string in the Bankstown bow is the Grand Ballroom, a multi-purpose event space that will hold up to 2000 when Stage 2 of the development is complete. Thanks to some great innovation on the behalf of Paynter Dixon’s design and construction, and in no small part, AV consultants Haron Robson , the Grand Ballroom fills many gaps in many markets — whether it be sideshows for major international touring acts, small to Greek weddings, conventions, new car launches, you name it, the Grand Ballroom can handle it. Howard walked venue through some of the innovations that have already put the Ballroom at the pointy end of event spaces in the country.
Firstly, the entire space is modular and can function as one large room, or many smaller rooms, catering for functions as small as 100. And if, say, a wedding blows out to Greek proportions, the rooms can be expanded to accommodate and still have plenty of adjoining rooms for a wedding breakfast, pre-function areas, and soon enough, a chapel. The tiled pre-function area is also accessible via a lift that’s big enough to lift 4WDs up to the convention level — perfect for the next Holden product launch. In the Ballroom, along with modular rooms, there is also no fixed stage; instead stages can be set up in a wide variety of configurations. The space is almost free of columns to maintain sightlines, but like most modern facilities, there are drop-down screens to fill in the blindspots.
No one is overlooked, even the artists upstairs have access to a central green room that services the various spaces in the newly-expanded facility, properly catered for with ‘the works’ — screens, audio, food and beverage.
Working on large events spaces can be a drag, but Paynter Dixon thought of the staff too with multiple food and beverage points that localise the services. “Whether it’s three rooms, two rooms or one large room, the food needs to be located so it can be quickly and easily distributed throughout the facility. That way you don’t have staff walking from the long end of one room to service the other,” explained Howard.
Another sticking point with most big venues is their inability to properly handle the diverse audio of functions, which can range from searing rock bands to just a single speaking voice. The acoustics in the ballroom were devised so that a loud band can be playing with patrons still able to hold a conversation across the table. And plenty of soundproofing material has gone into the layer between the Ballroom and the hotel above, keeping everyone happy.
One of the aspects that Howard and his team noticed when touring a lot of other spaces in Sydney was that each had issues with efficiency when changing between themed functions. If, for instance, one company’s Christmas lunch is followed by another’s Christmas dinner (both with different themes), then most venues would move
all the furniture to make way for cherry pickers to get to the rigging. “We’ve designed a ceiling that can be lowered in panels,” said Howard. “So you can drop the truss down to a couple of metres off the floor, and the tables can remain in place while any rigging needs to be done. It dramatically cuts down on setup time. Also, if you walk into any conventional conference room, they’ve nearly all got square ceilings with coffers, and they still end up with problems getting the lighting to cover the whole room. What we did was to turn the ceiling, lighting and grids in the Ballroom into a diamond shape.
I remember when we first suggested this, the consultants said, ‘oh no, that shouldn’t be done, because nobody’s done it’. Well I told them to go and do some analysis and write a report on it, and bring it back and let me know what the downsides were. They went away, evaluated it all and said, ‘There are no downsides, only upsides. We can get better coverage.’ It’s making the room more practical in terms of light and sound, and it gives the room a new architectural look.”
As always, with Paynter Dixon and their impeccable master planning, the building works have been devised such that the project can be expanded without affecting the current operations. It also has great views to the rest of the club, including the vibey La Piazza Italian precinct, smoking terraces, and will be on the ‘Yellow Brick Road’, a circulation path that will run through and tie together the entire first floor area.