New arena lures big names to Hopman
New arena lures big names to Hopman

It's been an excruciating 2225 days since BGC broke ground on Perth's most contentious building - the $549 million Perth Arena.

And with just 102 days until British pop star George Michael heralds the stadium's official opening with a sold-out concert, the signs are finally apparent that it might - just might - have been worth the wait.

Media, government and tennis officials were treated yesterday to a sneak peek of the arena's main seating bowl which was crawling with workers putting the finishing touches to a venue that is tantalisingly close to opening.

The tour coincided with the announcement that Serbians Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic and Australian Bernard Tomic will headline January's first Hopman Cup to be held at the arena.

Its 11,700 permanent seats are in place as is most of the electric-blue cladding that covers its internal walls.

Up to 3500 more seats can be added in various configurations for concerts, tennis or basketball.

Dazzling house lights hang from the retractable roof and the base layer of the arena floor is awaiting further finely tuned layers of latex, rubber and plastic that will make up the Plexicushion tennis court.

Venue operator AEG Ogden carried out internal sound testing in the nearby seating bowl at the weekend.

The building has attracted brickbats for its external appearance, with judgments made well in advance of its completion, and also the cost, which blew out from an original budget of $160 million.

But the final price tag is almost defensible compared with recently completed NBA arenas in Orlando ($480 million) and Brooklyn ($800 million). WA taxpayers will soon be able to judge for themselves if they got value for money.

The West Australian

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