The West

Col-osseum will kick goals

It is a stunning stadium design in a stunning location.

That much was clear the instant that Colin Barnett revealed his "Col-osseum" at Burswood yesterday, a five-tiered 60,000-seat amphitheatre with a roof that changes colour in honour of the home team.

It has an upper-level deck with city views on one end and a view of the playing field on the other. Bigger seats with cup holders, toilets with radios, TV screens everywhere and more food and beverage outlets than you can poke a stick at.

The Premier was not kidding when he said this would be Australia's best stadium.

The stadium steering committee and builder Westadium have tried to hit new benchmarks with almost every aspect of this stadium.

They won't even choose wi-fi options for a couple of years, to take advantage of the latest technology near the end of construction.

The precinct design marries the stadium to the Swan River, the city, our State and its past and present people.

The stadium's red veneer reflects WA's red dirt. A trail snakes its way from a planned footbridge over the river, past the stadium.

The trail is representative of the dreamtime serpent the Wagyl, which Noongar people say created the Swan and Canning rivers.

Westadium's John Flecker used the Noongar word "Boodjera" yesterday to describe it. It means "of" or "belonging to".

It is hard not to get swept up in the romance after years of spectator deprivation at the WACA Ground and Subiaco Oval.

It will make a grand entrance statement to the city for any fresh arrivals in the State making their way from the airport and heading to the city via the Graham Farmer Freeway.

That is what the Barnett Government sought when it chose the site. The stadium will also offer a stunning view at night, with its coloured roof set against the river and the city skyline. But at the risk of adding a dose of reality to the romance, the deals that will decide if this stadium really bears the fruit we want or whether it will become a financial lemon are still to be done.

The AFL, West Coast, Fremantle and the WA Football Commission will between them account for a minimum 22 of the stadium's events annually. There is no deal done with these parties yet.

WAFC chairman Frank Cooper was optimistic yesterday that the deal could be finalised within the next six months, when construction on the stadium is due to start.

It would represent a much swifter and smoother resolution to talks than occurred when the Carpenter government sat down to nut out a new financial model with the WAFC after deciding to build a 60,000-seat stadium on Kitchener Park, just to the west of Subiaco Oval.

In other words, don't count on Mr Cooper being right.

The Government had to offer financial guarantees to get the WAFC to let go of their Subiaco Oval stronghold.

There are no guarantees on offer this time and concerns about stadium returns at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval offer recent evidence that bigger, better stadiums and bigger crowds don't always add up to bigger profits for users.

The Government walks a fine line here.

It wants our clubs to be successful because they will underpin the success of the stadium. But the Government represents taxpayers before football clubs and it can't be so generous that taxpayers effectively subsidise those clubs.

The Government is also acutely aware that the profitability of our clubs puts them in the AFL's crosshairs as it attempts to equalise its competition and subsidise its financial battlers. The richer West Coast and Fremantle get, the more the AFL is likely to skim off the top.

West Coast and Fremantle signed up to join the national competition but WA taxpayers didn't sign up to be part of the financial salvation for Melbourne-based clubs such as the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and North Melbourne.

The West Australian

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