Look and Learn and Avoid Similar Mistakes

October 27, 2014 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Western Australia has often been ridiculed for its reactive view to progress, rather than being proactive. The protracted decision to erect a new multipurpose stadium, at a massive cost to tax payers, was just another example of how the state is slow to make decisions; and some would say then makes the wrong ones. There is still a large section of the sporting public, who have visited stadia around the globe, who are yet to be convinced that the multi-purpose approach is the right one, as this has been proven elsewhere that retractable seating to convert the stadium from an oval sport to a rectangular one is an option that rarely succeeds.

However there are lessons to be learned before the stadium is built, and from a stadium close by.

Singapore opened a state-of-the-art stadium earlier this year and was looking to make it a sporting hub for Asia. Initially most of the criticism was aimed at the sandy pitch and how poor the quality was for top flight sport. Teams playing at the venue unanimously stating that the surface must improve if they wish to regularly host top class football.

Yet now attention has turned on how the National Stadium’s commercial priorities have taken precedence over the stadium’s primary use. With an expected cost of AUD$1.5billion – including supporting infrastructure, – you can be sure that the Western Australian government will want a prompt return on that investment.

Tickets for the recent Japan v Brazil game hosted at the stadium were selling for SGD180 (Approx AUD$180) a price many ordinary Singaporeans could not afford. With the venue due to host the Suzuki Cup there are concerns that once again the prices will be prohibitive.

SportsHub Private Limited are the company managing the stadium, and they have received heavy criticism that they are more concerned with paying fans brining in food or drink than genuine security issues. Obviously the stadium vendors are an ideal way in which to recoup some of the investment in creating such a venue.

There is a familiar ring to the rhetoric in Australia, with Sports and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron saying, “Seat sizes are generous and each one will have a cup holder; fans will enjoy access to more than 70 food and beverage outlets; and those requiring higher levels of access – such as people in wheelchairs – will be able to use designated seating platforms across all seating tiers.The technology provisions include 4G Wi-Fi coverage across the stadium and precinct, two giant 240sqm video screens – some of the biggest in the country – and a further 1,000 screens throughout the stadium so fans never miss any of the action.”

Fears are already brewing that Singapore’s showpiece National Stadium is becoming a tourist attraction, and a venue only to be used by the wealthy, rather than becoming a venue packed with passionate local sports fans creating an atmosphere to be savoured. Could Perth’s sports fans face the same fears when the stadium opens in time for the 2018 AFL season?

Will Western Australia watch the mistakes being made in Singapore and ensure that they do not make the same mistake with their new stadium. Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett has gone on record as saying “the focus remains on delivering a venue that puts ‘fans first.'” For all in Western Australia let us hope that this is the case and they keep an eye on what is happening in Singapore. If they don’t we will be saddled with a stadium that is for exclusive use only.

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