18/04/2006 - 22:00

Thinking big or thinking smart?

18/04/2006 - 22:00


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There is a lot of conjecture about sport stadia in Perth at the moment as the various codes apply pressure for an outcome that suits them best.

There is a lot of conjecture about sport stadia in Perth at the moment as the various codes apply pressure for an outcome that suits them best.

In the meantime, the state government – which will end up footing a considerable part of the bill for any new developments – is also trying to grapple with various proposals.

On the table at the moment is everything from an extension of existing facilities to the construction of a major greenfields stadium in Perth’s southern suburbs.

With so much public money likely to be spent, it does worry me that some of the arguments we are hearing are starting to resemble the trumpet calls of white elephants.

Firstly, let’s address the issue of stadium size.

There is a valid argument that Western Australia lacks an iconic stadium that can handle 60,000 people, which would be able to meet demand for events such as a football final or a major international athletics event.

This is an issue, but I really wonder if there’s a cost-effective solution.

Do we really need to spend an awful lot of money to meet demand for one game a year (at best two) plus the possibility of a once-in-a-decade major event?

The last time we built a stadium for a major athletics event was more than four decades ago, at Perry Lakes for the then Empire Games.

Has that stadium really been put to much good use since? Certainly not from a capacity point of view, I’d argue.

It really worries me when I hear the ‘build-it-and-they-will-come’ argument when it comes to major events.

That was the theory behind the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. The practice seems somewhat different.

Furthermore, the fact that cricket and football have never managed to really jointly use their major facilities – especially given those codes’ unique need for a big oval field – is something of a tragedy for sport in WA.

AFL and cricket seem to have found some joint use of the MCG in Melbourne, although I acknowledge things have not always been perfect. It is a pity such a linkage has not occurred here rather, than the considerable money poured into the WACA Ground and Subiaco, which both remain seasonal venues.

As for location, that is a major issue for me.

I don’t like the idea of pulling crowds to wastelands in a bid to rejuvenate places. Again, the convention centre stands as stark reminder that a large building, which has transitional crowds, does not make an area more lively.

Two years on and convention-goers in Perth still can’t find much within cooee of the centre.

What makes a location like Cockburn any better?

Centralisation might suit people who live in the centre of Perth, but the fact is that keeping major venues of any nature makes them more accessible for everyone, both locals and tourists – and means there is existing infrastructure such as hotels, transport and hospitality to support it.

I am sure the powers that be have considered many of these issues and I can hope the decisions made are ones that make WA a better place to live and visit, not ones that suit some narrow regional (read electoral) or sporting interests.

Call of the open road gets heard

LAST week I made a rare foray into commenting on a personal issue – the field of caravans.

It seems my concerns about these often poorly handled road obstacles have not fallen on deaf ears.

On the day of publication I received a message from Scarborough-based Global Gypsies, claiming they had the same concerns and had actually done more than bleat about it.

Global Gypsies is a tour and training company specialising in adventure tourism that has turned its hand to something that will make the roads a safer place – teaching caravan owners how to properly haul their mobile homes.

The company said inquiries beyond Perth for its towing and training course, ‘Caravanning with Confidence’, had led it to create a DVD version for people who could not attend in the metropolitan area.

A spokesperson said the DVDs were selling well.

It sounds like a good idea to me. I reckon every caravan sold should come with one (and a free DVD player and TV screen to view it, if that’s what it takes).

With so many caravans made in WA it would provide a nice synergy to have a bit of local training content provided with every caravan sold.

At the very least, this might ensure more enthusiasts become repeat buyers.

Email alerts a big hit with readers

A final note from me is largely one of self-promotion.

In mid-November we launched our Daily Business Alerts, an email news service which sends the business and political news of the day straight to subscriber’s inboxes.

I must say I have been overwhelmed by the response to this product by readers who really appreciate having this information in an easily-read format before the close of business each day.

This service is free and is different from the newspaper.

If you’d like to subscribe, visit our website and click on the offer right next to the icon which says ‘Breaking News’.


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