AAMI about-face means good and bad news
Saturday, December 27 2008 @ 12:36 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
On this site we've bemoaned the lack of improvement to Adelaide's number one football ground, AAMI Stadium (Football Park). In particular South Australian fans have had to sit by while there have been major upgrades to the MCG, the building of the indoor Telstra Dome (Docklands Stadium), and a complete overhaul of the Gabba in Brisbane, as well as plans for a brand new facility in Perth and Sydney having use of ANZ Stadium (was Telstra Stadium / Olympic Stadium).
During that time AAMI Stadium has improved. New seating and the addition of two video screens and the relatively small northern grandstand have all made the venue better. But all along fans have wanted several things - to get closer to the action (the 1970s design with low sloping stands leaves the audience a long way from the playing surface), to increase the capacity (the Crows had a long waiting list for season tickets), and of course the ultimate dream - an indoor stadium closer to the city centre, as the AFL built in Melbourne.
The SANFL, owners of AAMI Stadium, in the Adelaide suburb of West Lakes, have had plans to upgrade, but have consistently denied the viewing distance was an issue or that it would change. The constant criticism of that line has caused some friction, so it is somewhat ironic that they have now released their plans for the upgrade - and it includes moving around one third of the spectators closer to the field. But simultaneous with the positive result came the negative - due to the global financial crisis, the state government has "postponed" its funding support. Thus the major changes will be delayed.
So whether AFL fans will see a major difference at the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power home ground over the next few years remains up in the air. The plans can be viewed at Get the Facts.
Overall the capacity will remain around 50,000, which is probably appropriate. If the ground had been expanded back in the late 90s, with Adelaide's large waiting list, it would have been likely the Crows' would have grown their membership to even larger numbers than the record 50,000+ they have achieved. But consistent lack of seating has, anecdotally, seen leakage of potential fans to Port Adelaide and other sports, and probably only premierships will see Adelaide return to experiencing such demand again.
Meanwhile nothing will satiate those people calling for a ground to be built closer to the city CBD - something the opposition is using as a point of difference to the state government. Whether it will be an election issue may depend on whether the global financial crisis subsides - no money in the state's coffers will make it very hard for any party to argue for a new stadium.