So here it was. The show piece clash that would prove once and for all that Adelaide Oval needs to be made into a stadium to hold 50,000.
For the first time in seven years, international soccer was back in town. The Socceroos, ‘fresh from their triumph against the world beating Germans’ were playing New Zealand.
Three weeks out from the game The Advertiser’s soccer writer, from Sydney, told us 20,000 tickets had been sold. Really? Then on 26th May, the SACA made a bonus members’ offer for reduced price tickets (which were then available to all and any punter) on an unlimited basis. Reports also had it that 10,000 tickets had been given away for free. Steps that suggested the much hoped for sell out was not on its way.
This morning the Sunday Mail told us 30,000 were going to the game and nothing short of a media blitz played its way across commercial radio before noon promoting the game. Final crowd – about 22,000, the same as the Reds drew in their game against Melbourne Victory earlier in the year. Does this matter?
Well sure. The issue is not that none of the big four Socceroo stars – Schwarzer, Neil, Kewell and Cahill – took to the pitch or that the game was televised live on Foxtel or that the original ticket prices for an off-season friendly were up to $80 (who thought this was a good idea?).
What counts is the fiction we were told about how everyone was going and the motives behind it. That being to once again try to justify this fiscal madness that Adelaide Oval needs to have its capacity lifted from 38,000 to 50,000 for a cost to taxpayers of $535m+.
Jim Hancock, the author of the now infamous Centre for Economic Studies report used by the SMA to justify this great self indulgence, went on ABC Breakfast during the week and revealed that the gain in economic activity to the Adelaide CBD from the redeveloped Oval was in fact a mere $33m (and that in an Ashes year) after deducting that expenditure being transferred from West Lakes – down from the $114m figure that had been widely used by those too caught up in the cheer leading who should have known better and checked.
The average expected crowds for Port and Crows games were those provided to him by SMA and the CES didn’t bother to check out the credentials of those figures. While the Socceroos entertained 22,000 at Adelaide Oval, about the same number (23,192 allegedly) went to Football Park to watch Port play Carlton. That crowd was some 4,000 less than the lowest crowd for this clash in the past six years and about 7,000 below last year’s crowd (30%) and the average for those past five clashes.
Port CEO Mark Haysman was also on radio this week spruiking a crowd of about 30,000 and again the match enjoyed the usual sad pleadings and cajoling of Michelangelo Rucci throughout the week.
So, if Port survives long enough to go to Adelaide Oval it needs crowds to increase by nearly 50% to meet Jim Hancock’s average. Based on tonight’s turn-up, we will also need about three soccer internationals to reach those projected annual figures each year and still we are shy the 65,000 in rugby crowds assumed (with the 23,000 from the Rugby Sevens gone) again each and every year.
As many are now increasingly asking, why can’t all these events happen on the Adelaide Oval as presently configured? Port games, all soccer games all cricket matches and so on are just fine in a venue that holds 38,000. The way the Crows are going they too will manage quite happily there as well.
When you deduct the interest cost on the cost of the stadium ($40m) you are already behind and then if you take into account that Jim’s figures are gross revenues and not net economic benefit (after deducting the costs involved of generating the revenue), one realises that Adelaide Oval is now a dog of a deal.
Hopefully when the Liberals decide tomorrow to also oppose this legislation the voices of reason will start to prevail and the idiocy of a government on a financial death wish for this state is noticed and acted upon.
Sadly The Advertiser and the Sunday Mail, supposedly our guards against the excesses of the political class, just don’t seem to get how wrong they are and have been and how out of step with their readers they have become.
Is it any wonder their readership numbers continue to plummet?