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Stadium aspect of centre confuses

PERTH will gain a 19,000 seat rugby and soccer stadium as part of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The WA Government is offering the developers $10 million as a contribution to the building costs.

This is in addition to the $100 million the government has already offered as its financial contribution to the building of the convention centre.

Both short-listed bidders for the convention centre business have indicated they will include the stadium.

The question has been asked, however, whether the stadium will be a suitable size for its proposed uses.

WA’s challenger in the National Soccer League, Perth Glory, currently draws up to 15,000 people to a home game.

This would already bring the proposed stadium close to full capacity.

In finals matches, the expected attendance at a Glory home game would be more than the planned stadium could hold.

Such matches would have to be held at either the WACA Ground or Subiaco Oval.

There are plans to have the stadium built in such a way that it can be expanded to a 30,000 seat arena but even this amount of seating only brings it close to one of WA’s two other major sporting fields – the WACA Ground.

The addition of the stadium to the convention centre proposal was initially surrounded by rumours that the idea was politically motivated.

However, Tourism Minister Norman Moore said the stadium inclusion was not a political move.

“The stadium will be owned and operated by the successful developer of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre,” Mr Moore said.

Some industry sources have suggested the successful bidder for the convention centre will have trouble making a commercial success of the stadium.

Mr Moore said the government had originally given serious consideration to building a rectangular, multi-purpose stadium when first the Western Reds, then the Perth Glory came on the scene.

“The demise of the Western Reds caused a rethink of the development,” he said.

“However, the big crowds that have followed the Perth Glory and the possibility that rugby union, in particular, could field a Perth team in the future has encouraged the government to include the stadium as a required part of the convention centre process so it could be built and operated by the private sector.”

Some of the thought behind the stadium’s inclusion was to give a facility to allow world class players in the rectangular pitch codes to show off their skills.

Mr Moore said the stadium would give Perth the capacity to host most games played on a rectangular pitch such as rugby league, rugby union and soccer.

However, Eventscorp, the organisation tasked with drawing major sporting events to WA, will apparently be unable to sell the venue overseas.

Eventscorp general manager Linda Wayman said, to bid for some events, Perth needed a good stadium.

Ms Wayman said he sort of stadium they’re talking about is not something Eventscorp could use.

“Unless the stadium was to be something of the size of Melbourne’s Colonial Stadium it would not be of much use to us,” she said.

There is one event on the horizon that could be ideal for the proposed stadium.

WA is in the running to host a group in the World Women’s Soccer, possibly in 2003.

However, Australia has not yet been confirmed as the host nation for that event.

WA’s other major rectangular pitch sporting event is the international rugby union test held each year which will still use Subiaco Oval.

There is a chance Perth could enter a team into the Rugby Super 12s competition if it is expanded to a Super 14s.

The Super 12s is a first class rugby

competition including five New Zealand sides, four South African sides and three Australian sides.

If current discussions conclude that an expanded competition is called for, either Perth or Melbourne could get the nod.

In such an event, the proposed stadium could prove its worth.

Another argument for keeping the stadium small to start with is the potential for the Perth Glory franchise to go elsewhere.

While there has been no indication this is likely, it could happen if the team became unprofitable.

WA rugby league team the Western Reds moved to Victoria as the Melbourne Storm in 1997.

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