There were many fans of sports played on a rectangular pitch who were sceptical about how well the state-of-the art Perth Stadium would cater for their needs. (NTFS being one). It appears that their concerns may well have some validation.
All throughout the evaluation process it appeared that the use of the stadium was very much skewed towards the needs of the two AFL teams in the West rather than all sports. Then as news started to leak that the new stadium would also host Cricket Test matches, fans of the two rugby codes and football began to become a little more concerned.
Their concerns were to be allayed by the news that the new Perth Stadium would have retractable seating, so that when a rectangular sport was played this seating would come out and ensure that fans were close to the action.
There were concerns in relation to the retractable seating. How far would it come out and how steep would the angle be to ensure that fans seated in these ‘additional seats’ would have a decent view.
The good news is the surface at the new stadium will be flat, rather than curved as at Subiaco Oval and the WACA so fans should be able to see the feet of the players at all times.
The bad news is there will not be any retractable seating.
The front row of the permanent seating will be raised 1.5metres from the playing surface, and when a rectangular sport is played, seven to nine rows of temporary seats will be “bumped in.” These will go around the whole coliseum-shaped stadium and is expected to amount to an extra 5,000 seats.
Many of these seats will fall outside of the 85% roof coverage of seating in the stadium and some, according to the diagrams, look to be directly below the drip line from the roof.
There are some who are saying now that the stadium was never intended to have retractable seating, and this was always the planned course of action. One source has said that the reason the retractable seating was dropped was due to the added cost to the project. Those involved had underestimated how expensive retractable seating would be to instal and how much space it would take up. Yet one would have thought, if as predicted the project is going to cost $1.1billion, the additional cost for this would have been proportionally minimal. (Costs were predicted to be $800 million on construction of the stadium, and $300 million on associated infrastructure, property acquisition, transport infrastructure and other related costs).
Is this another example of Western Australia not committing 100% to a vision?
It is interesting to read the Wikipedia page – admittedly not always a reliable source – for the Perth Stadium, as this confirms that retractable seats were initially in the plans. It reads “The stadium was also expected to have retractable seating which would have reconfigured the venue to make it suitable for rectangular-field sports codes, such as soccer and rugby. These retractable seats were to number 22,000, and were to be situated along the touch lines and behind the posts in the rectangular configuration.”
It was great to hear at the end of last week that the NRL has committed to bring the 2019 State of Origin rugby league to the Stadium, but fans of the sport are already concerned about the distance and view from seats close to the action.
Hopefully when the stadium is completed these fears will be allayed, but it is a shame that what was initially promised to the rectangular codes and their fans, is now not going to be delivered. Especially as the whole project boasted about how this stadium was all about the fans, and that they had a “Fans First” approach to design and technology.