Sta­dium whingers miss mark

The West Australian - - OPINION - Gareth Parker

Mick Mur­ray, the Min­is­ter for Sport, is 100 per cent cor­rect. Peo­ple up­set that the NRL will open its sea­son at the new Perth Sta­dium two weeks ahead of the AFL need to get over it.

What a ridicu­lous thing to get up­set about.

What a par­tic­u­larly pa­thetic whinge.

WA tax­pay­ers have spent $1.4 bil­lion build­ing the sport­ing and en­ter­tain­ment palace on the banks of the Swan River.

Soon enough we’ll all be able to judge whether the ex­pense was worth it.

Dozens of eco­nomic stud­ies on sport­ing venues all over the world show they strug­gle to jus­tify their ex­is­tence on purely com­mer­cial terms.

Per­haps the best ar­gu­ment in their favour is they act as mark­ers for a city’s rep­u­ta­tion, with TV time ded­i­cated to events amount­ing to free pub­lic­ity for a des­ti­na­tion.

News flash: Ea­gles and Dock­ers fans are go­ing to go to this sta­dium any­way (and that is true whether it has a cor­po­rate name).

The chal­lenge to mak­ing the whole thing pay is to use it as of­ten as pos­si­ble, and to at­tract as many eye­balls as pos­si­ble.

To that end, the Gov­ern­ment and its sta­dium man­ager should be pulling out all the stops — and they are.

Hav­ing pop­u­lar NRL clubs South Syd­ney Rab­bitohs and Can­ter­bury-Bankstown Bull­dogs host a sea­son-open­ing rugby league dou­ble-header here in Perth is a mas­ter­stroke.

That the NRL “beats” the AFL to the punch is no more than an ac­ci­dent of each league’s fix­tur­ing.

Three-plus hours of un­in­ter­rupted TV cov­er­age into Aus­tralia’s big­gest city (and maybe Mel­bourne and Bris­bane, too, depend­ing on who the sched­uled op­po­nents are), plus the prospect that a few thou­sand fans might jump on a plane, head west, fill a ho­tel room and buy a meal or three.

And some peo­ple are up­set by this?

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