The West

Cats to play it cool at Arena
Cats to play it cool at Arena

The Perth Wildcats are the talk of the town this week after putting up the "sold out" signs for their first home game at Perth Arena.

They take on traditional rivals Adelaide at the new $550 million venue tomorrow night and are expecting a crowd of more than 12,000.

But Wildcats officials know they have a long way to go before they can reproduce the glory days of the early 1990s, when fans camped outside the Entertainment Centre to buy tickets.

Managing director Nick Marvin set the ambitious target of signing 10,000 members this season and in January said the club hoped to fill the Arena for every home game.

But this week he described the sell-out as an "aberration" and admitted invitations to stakeholders, corporate supporters and VIPs had contributed to the result.

Marvin's eyes remain focused on the attendance target, which he now says lies further down the track.

"It's nice to have one for the history books, but realistically it will take us a few years to reach consistent sell-outs," Marvin said.

"It will take four or five games for us to really understand the popularity of our games (and) what works and what doesn't.

"What we do know is that we have to do our very best to ensure everyone that comes to our games has a great time and keeps coming back."

The Wildcats will have their first full training session at the Arena this morning as they look to acclimatise to their new surroundings.

They played in front of two crowds of 9000-plus in Auckland during last season's grand final series defeat to New Zealand.

But forward Greg Hire says nothing can fully prepare the Wildcats for the reception they will get from 12,000 screaming fans tomorrow.

"I don't think anyone in this program has been in front of that many fans so it will be a totally different environment," he said.

"There might be some jitters from the excitement, but we try to stay focused.

"Our sports psychologist and our coaching staff put stuff in front of us to make sure that we don't get too excited or too anxious.

"This week will definitely be important and will be a big test in terms of making sure we stay together, making sure emotions aren't running too high and we don't get ahead of ourselves."

The Wildcats (3-2) have lost two in a row and will be looking to dish out some payback to Adelaide (4-3), who won last Sunday at Adelaide Arena after trailing at three- quarter time.

The West Australian

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