Back in February news that Perth Glory may well leave NIB Stadium for the Hockey stadium at Curtin University had many football fans in shock.
The Hockey stadium is not well placed in terms of public transport, with no train station nearby. Parking is a massive problem even when the Kookaburras or Hockeyroos play and draw a crowd of 4,000 people. The stadium is also not well placed in terms of bars and being able to walk to the ground, something that football fans the world over enjoy before or after the game.
However what the fans feel may have very little to do with the final decision.
It is understood that Perth Glory are extremely keen to plough ahead with this plan. The main stand can be extended and the Glory is prepared to pay for the cost so that the stand will offer them seating for 2000 of their corporate members.
The current scoreboard end of the stadium will be terraced and a roof put over the top to house the fans that normally frequent the shed, so that the noise that they generate will still create an atmosphere at the games.
The area opposite the current main stand will see a temporary stand erected which will lift the capacity of the stadium to 10,000. The Glory are banking on the fact that their average crowds of around 7,000 will continue to follow the team, therefore making the stadium close to full every home game.
The Glory will be expected to foot the bill for these alterations to the current stadium and will then pay a rental fee of close to $300,000 a season. What may concern Glory fans is that it is understood that they are looking to sign a five year deal to stay at the ground.
This would appear extremely risky, as if the fans do stay away, due to the location, public transport issues, parking or the whole game experience they will be locked into a stadium that has turned their consumers away, for a long period of time.
The biggest stumbling block currently is the surface, which is artificial. Hockey is played on a much smoother synthetic pitch than football, for obvious reasons. The surface is also much harder with very little give in it, which is totally unsuitable for football. Currently the artificial surface for hockey is a 19mm pile, whereas football requires 65mm.
There is talk that the Glory may opt for a drop-in synthetic pitch, which would remain in place for the duration of the A league season. However this is dependent on the FFA approving Perth Glory to play A League fixtures on a synthetic surface. Many fans will recall Luton Town and Queens Park Rangers as just two of the clubs in England that experimented with artificial surfaces before they were banned, and they gained little advantage from them.
One has to wonder if these recommendations were made in the review carried out by David Hatt and Rick Charlesworth, two men with strong ties to Hockey, as Hockey WA and the AIS Hockey program would benefit significantly from such a venture.
It is also worth remembering that this same review supposedly recommended the club look at a permanent base at Curtin University, even though UWA – where the club trains – offered to build a home for the club at McGillivray Oval over two years ago.
Before such a move is considered the Glory would be wise to canvas the opinion of its fans and members, as a casual poll by “Not The Footy Show” showed many fans would opt to stay home, especially those who live north of the river, citing the lack of a train service as the main reason.