Wasps Group chief executive Nick Eastwood has been recognised for spearheading a record year of activity for Wasps and the Ricoh Arena.
Eastwood was named as Man of the Year 2018 at the City of Birmingham Business Awards in front of hundreds of business professionals at Edgbaston Stadium.
It comes off the back of a year that has seen the Ricoh Arena welcome around 1.6 million people through its doors, up from 1.2 million in the previous year. The venue also staged 857 different events – ranging from exhibitions and conferences to live sport and music – a ten per cent increase year-on-year.
Other initiatives fulfilled under Eastwood’s tenure include key digital investments such as the installation of a 188 square metre scoreboard, and a new free Wi-Fi infrastructure capable of streaming content to 20,000 people simultaneously, plus a new 3D ticketing system allowing supporters to view their seat before they buy.
Eastwood has also overseen the continued rise of Wasps Rugby Club both on and off the pitch. More than 300,000 fans came through the Ricoh Arena turnstiles last season, including an extra 15,000 fans as a result of the club’s expanding community programmes, which includes introducing school children from non-traditional rugby backgrounds to the sport for the first time.
The club’s community arm – known as the Wasps Community Foundation – is also expanding its size and reach. The Foundation now has eight full-time coaches and 20 part-time coaches that deliver programmes helping with improving men’s health, providing sporting opportunities for disabled youngsters, and helping teenagers get back into education, training or employment.
The Wasps Cashback scheme – where local rugby clubs can earn money for each Wasps match day ticket that they sell – also invested around £15,000 into local grassroots rugby clubs last year.
Eastwood has also helped to forge strong relationships with big names to attract them to the region, such as renaming the Ricoh Arena’s exhibition hall as the Ericsson Indoor Arena.
“I’m extremely proud to have accepted this award which is testament to the forward-thinking and hardworking team we have at Wasps and the Ricoh Arena,” Eastwood said.
“We have made some game-changing investments at the Ricoh Arena over the past 12 months which will help the Ricoh Arena to be at the forefront of digitally-enabled experiences for many years to come.
“Wasps’ work in the community continues to grow year-on-year, which is crucial for us as we seek to bring through the next generation of players and supporters.
“Both our work on developing the Ricoh Arena and investing in grassroots rugby are central building blocks for our long-term success as a group.
“We look forward to another exciting year of activity on and off the pitch.”