Dear Mr Barnett,
I was wondering if you could do me a favour. It is in relation to Perth’s Sporting Stadia.
I realise you are waiting with baited breath as to the outcome of Australia’s World Cup bid in December, before you make a decision on what is to happen with Perth’s major sporting venues.
Can I suggest you do some reconnaissance before then? I have just returned from a weekend in Melbourne, and what I’m about to ask you is deadly serious, and in no way should you infer any sarcasm.
Book a tax-payer funded holiday to Melbourne for a weekend in September. Book a flight for either Thursday evening or Friday morning. Once you’ve taken off, unbuckle your business class seat-belt and take a stroll down to economy class. Have a chat to some of the other passengers and ask how many of them are going to Melbourne for a weekend of football and shopping. You will be surprised at the numbers who respond in the affirmative.
When you arrive in Melbourne, book a hotel room in the heart of town. Preferably on Exhibition Street or Collins Street. During the day on Friday take your wife via tram to Chapel Street for some shopping. Buy a couple of nice Armani suits and some Aquila shoes while you’re there. Enjoy a coffee and lunch in any of the fine restaurants and cafes.
On Friday night walk to the MCG from your hotel room for Friday night football. The walk will be no more than ten minutes. You’ll find plenty of company. Take a seat in the MCC members alongside Mr Brumby for awhile in the first half. Ask him about the ground. Tour the media boxes, the corporate boxes, sit in the Ponsford and Olympic stands for a period, and walk around to the Southern Stand. Take in the views, the atmosphere, and survey the amenities as well.
At full-time walk back to the city. It’ll be cold so make sure you wear a warm coat and scarf, and feel free to pop into an establishment for a drink to invigorate the soul.
On Saturday morning, take yourself out for breakfast. Might I suggest Flinders Lane. It is a hub of activity and there are some very nice cafes down there.
In the afternoon walk back down to the Sporting precinct. Visit the National Sports Museum at the MCG. Head across to Melbourne Park and see the Walk of Champions. It’ll be early evening by then. So make your way into the newly-built AAMI Park for an A-League fixture. Again survey the ground, the seats from all angles, the amenities, and the corporate and media facilities. Take note of how enjoyable it is watching soccer in a purpose built rectangular stadium.
After that head across to Southbank for a late evening meal. There are plenty of high-quality restaurants open on the waterfront.
On Sunday, get on the tram on Collins Street and ride it all the way across town to Docklands to watch football at Etihad Stadium. Pick a seat, any seat. I guarantee you will not find a bad pew in the place. They should have the roof closed. You’ll love the atmosphere. It is an incredible stadium to watch sport in.
On Sunday evening head back to Tullamarine for the flight home. Again once on the plane take note of how many West Australians are on board heading home after a great weekend. Talk to them about their experiences, what they saw, and what they did.
On Monday morning head into your office, call your budget team in, lock the door and crunch the numbers for two new stadiums to be built in Perth. One a 70,000 seat oval stadium and one a 30-40,000 seat rectangular stadium. Look at their viability, but also look at the tourism dollars they may attract if the equal of people that were on your flights to and from Melbourne come to Perth in same manner from the eastern states or overseas. I guarantee just as many will come to watch world-class sport in world-class stadia. I also believe given the length of the journey here they might stay for longer than a weekend. They may take a week off work and add a trip to Broome, the Kimberley, or Ningaloo, or a week in Margaret River touring the wineries.
The Eagles and Dockers will attract 40,000 plus every week as a minimum, with 60-70,000 for Derbies and finals. Twenty20 International cricket will also attract 50,000 there. The rectangular stadium will get 20,000 plus to Perth Glory and Western Force fixtures and at least 15,000 to the NRL franchise that will be housed there from 2013 onwards, factoring in, of course, the possibilities of those numbers expanding with the rise in our population over the next three decades. 40,000 will turn up for the Socceroos and Wallabies fixtures that Perth will attract at the venue.
If fund-raising is a concern, consider the land-value of both Subiaco and Perth Oval. Both are dilapidated facilities beyond repair. Just run them into the ground whilst you build new ones and sell the land to reclaim your outlay. If you are still short, ask our mining magnates to pitch in, so long as you continue to protect their interests at a federal level.
Once you’ve done the economic forecasting and seen the enormous long-term benefits out-weigh the initial short-term costs, employ five architects to draw up plans for these stadiums. Build them close to town, either in East Perth, or even Langley Park where you plan to have the inlet. Somewhere that will attract people to the city, that’s accessible by public transport, and can enhance Perth’s quality restaurant, cafe, and night-life scene.
Once you’ve picked the designs that suit our city the best, put it out to tender, seal the deal, and go to the site with your hard-hat on and media-throng in toe and break ground.
Forget the World Cup bid. If you do all that I have asked of you Mr Barnett, I can guarantee that you will go down as one of the greatest Premiers and most brilliant visionaries in Western Australian history.
Good luck to you sir.