Pitch Battle

Amazing how the picture in the newspaper of what every sport loving Western Australian dreams of, can fire up emotions. The thing that we all dream of is a decent sports stadium that will host top quality sport.

The government continues to invite designs and thoughts but as usual does absolutely nothing and has no foresight to see the revenue that this could actually bring into Western Australia. Neither do they see that during this so called boom time you may in fact get a Rio Tinto or Woodside who may pay for naming rights for ten years and therefore assist in the recouping of the costs.

What was equally distressing was hearing John Langolaunt the chair of the former Labor Government’s stadium taskforce on the ABC talk for ten minutes on the benefits of a new stadium referring only to the sport that we don’t mention.

Having read his findings they appeared at the time skewed heavily in favour of that one sport, and bring into question whether other codes had an open ear when the report was being compiled.

The author of this blog met with a former government minister on this very issue before the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre was built. You may recall that one of the conditions of the tender process for that construction was that the company with the winning tender was to build a rectangular stadium. The Court Government’s legal staff did not however check the contract that they signed off on, and the company concerned escaped without ever having to build the rectangular sports stadium.

The proposal that was discussed with the minister at the time, who on tax payer’s money had gone on a fact finding mission to Europe to visit key stadia for ideas was as follows:

Build a rectangular stadium that will double up as a convention centre. A retractable wooden floor to come out over the pitch so that exhibitions can be held on the ground.

A retractable roof for similar reasons, so that exhibitions can be held in the venue as well as concerts.

One side of the stadium to house football. They have their administrative offices in that side of the ground and their changing rooms. The other side is dedicated to Rugby Union and Rugby League. They too have their own changing rooms on their side of the stadium.

The corporate boxes along the side of the ground can open up and become one conference room, or a series of smaller rooms for similar use.

One end of the ground houses a hotel where the players can stay and from which there is a corridor straight to the changing rooms on either side. This way visiting teams can move straight from the hotel to the changing rooms with no hassle. Rooms in the hotel facing the ground have balconies that can double up as extra corporate boxes.

The opposite end of the stadium has the facility for a stage to come out and host concerts. Again a corridor from the hotel to the stage for the performers, should they wish to stay at the hotel.

Finally to assist in the covering of the costs of the stadium it was suggested that a debenture system like that used at Twickenham be set up for some of the stadium. When an international is played at Twickenham, now all of the ticket sales once costs of staff are covered are profit.

The way this would work is, if once the stadium is completed you wish to but a seat in the debenture area, and it was suggested again rugby have an area on one side of the ground, football on the other, you purchase a seat or two for a five year period. That seat is guaranteed to be yours for all events held at the stadium. However you still have to buy your match day ticket.

After the five year period if you bought in at the starting price you are guaranteed that price every time you renew it until you relinquish that seat. So whatever price you buy in at is fixed. Those who buy in later pay a slightly higher rate.

Should you decide you do not wish to use the seat leading up to a test match you are given a period of time in which to respond and purchase your ticket, or your seat becomes available on general sale.

This form of seating would be limited, so that general admission is still available to those wishing to attend games and concerts.

The final recommendation was to have the stadium managed by a proper stadium management company, rather than a sporting body. This way you are more likely to get a return on your investment far quicker, as they will not be interested in petty politics, just profits.

Seeing as the state has not reaped any benefit from that ministerial fact finding mission which was prior to construction on the Convention Centre which commenced in 2001, should not the costs have to be repaid to the state? But more importantly surely this would have been a better solution than the eyesore we currently have by the river, and it would have given us a first class rectangular venue.

That meeting was ten years ago, and what progress has been made? None of these ideas were original; all had been done elsewhere around the World, but were obviously too progressive for Perth.

Pitch Battle
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