It would appear that consultation is a almost a swear word in Western Australia. Then again when the consultative process is frequently skewed to obtain an outcome that was wanted prior to the process being put in motion maybe it deserves to be a bracketed with a four-letter word.
News today that the Premier of Western Australia Mr Colin Barnett has said he is open to suggestions for a name for the new $1 billion stadium at Burswood and that he would not guarantee public suggestions would be listened to but has stipulated that any ideas should include the word Perth. Why Perth? Surely this stadium belongs to the whole state? That is by-the-by but tends to raise the question is this just another example of his autocratic style of government and how this whole new stadium issue has been Shanghai’d.
This stadium is and always has been for Australian Rules. The reports into its viability and requirements have been skewed towards reflecting the needs of one code of football over three others, Association Football, Rugby League and Union.
The viability should be based on stadium usage and how much usage a rectangular stadium will have as opposed to an oval stadium. Regrettably for those who are fans of the national games of Australia, cricket and AFL – which both happen to be played on ovals- rectangular stadia have a far greater chance of success in turning a profit. They are better venues at which to watch sport, better for Concerts and also other community events such as conferences and shows. The main reason being that the paying public will always be close to the action.
This stadium should never have received the rubber stamp, and now the Government will celebrate its achievement of pushing through what will end up being a white elephant, by giving it a name by which all will be able to remember it. This stadium has all the makings of ending up like Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
Known as ‘the big O’ due to its design many feel the name was more appropriate because of its cost. The stadium roof was manufactured in France and was not ready in time for the ’76 Olympics and was only put in place in 1987!In fact the stadium was not ready in time for the Olympics and was never at full capacity. Perth Arena’s delay and budget blow outs should be a warning that the new stadium may well suffer similar problems.
Initially when awarded the Games the cost of the Montreal stadium was to be C$134million. When it was opened for the Olympic Games its cost while unfinished was C$264million and when it was finally completed the cost had blown out to C$1.61billion, making it the second most expensive stadium after Wembley Stadium in London, erected almost 30 years later.
Rather than coming up with a name the Government should be searching for a naming rights sponsor who would find such a proposition attractive, such as Emirates Airlines did with Arsenal’s new ground. Herein again lies the problem. The stadium is predominantly for one sport, and that one sport does not have, despite the chest-beating we frequently witness, the pulling power internationally to attract a naming rights sponsor of the likes of Emirates. Also would the WA Government be willing to give a sponsor the name of the street on which the stadium is built as Arsenal did? For those not aware of the deal Emirates signed a 15-year naming rights deal for a fee believed to be around UKL100 million, and the ground is situated at 1 Emirates Place.
One would love to be excited about this new stadium, but with the shambles that has been Perth Arena, the feasibility studies and the ‘do as we say’ approach of the current State Government one has to wonder whether the people of Western Australia will be paying for this structure for many years to come.