Thursday, June 7, 2007

United looks to Increase

Adelaide United is apparently seeking an upgrade to Hindmarsh Stadium, possibly expanding it's capacity to over 25,000 seats - pretty exciting news for me, an Adelaide resident and United fan.

(link to story:,22606,21863101-5006373,00.html)

What worries me is some other comments, made in the reports, about this situation:

"Members of the Football Federation Australia will also speak to government officials to reveal that Adelaide is highly unlikely to ever see the Socceroos again at Hindmarsh's 16,500 capacity unless the facility is upgraded...

...It is believed that FFA officials want a minimum 25,000 capacity for Hindmarsh, a carparking upgrade and a permanent video screen or the club could risk losing "showcase" matches to other venues. "

This suggests to me that the FFA considers Hindmarsh stadium to be Adelaide's only stadium capable of hosting big football matches. Although the FFA did schedule a Socceroos game to be played at Adelaide Oval in 2006, the game was cancelled and hence there has been no Socceroos game in Adelaide since we played the Solomon Islands - back in 2004.

I look at this situation and I worry about South Australia's future prospects of hosting such games - anyone who's been to hindmarsh stadium will know that it is already jammed up against roads, and the potential for expansion is not great (I have my doubts that even an expansion to 25,000 could happen). If Hindmarsh Stadium is Adelaide's only major stadium suitable for football, we can kiss goodbye any chance of hosting even remotely big Socceroos games, the A-league grand final - or even World Cup games (one day, maybe).

I firmly believe the time has come for South Australia to build a new stadium, a large stadium - in the center of the city. AAMI Stadium is hardly good enough to host AFL anymore, let alone football (for those who don't know it is a very big ground, and fans don't get a good view of the action). Adelaide Oval is a nice ground, but it is a traditional ground, it's not really suitable for football, or AFL for that matter - It's a great place to watch Cricket, but that's about it.

A new stadium would have to be suitable for multiple sports - The Telstra Dome is a good blueprint to follow, as it's quite a good venue for football and it's obviously a good place to watch AFL games.

Another major advantage of the Telstra Dome is it's location - in the center of Melbourne, right next to a train station - the atmosphere when walking through Melbourne to the Dome is great -and really adds to the experience of attending a game there. Compare that to AAMI - no good public transport, and it's right out west so everyone who goes there is travelling in the same directon - making for terrible traffic jams.

If a new telstra-dome like stadium were built in Adelaide, it would become very much a stadium for the whole state. Both of Adelaide's AFL clubs would play all there games there, and I'm sure crowd numbers at their games would increase. Adelaide United would probably continue to play games at Hindmarsh, but the new stadium would be perfect for big United games, such as finals - as well as any potential Socceroo games.

One day, the stadium would probably play host to the biggest matches of all - FIFA World Cup games. Australia has decared it's intention to bid for the 2018 World Cup, and at present Adelaide has no venue suitable for hosting games. I believe that there is no chance any stadiums in Adelaide could be upgraded to be suitable for World Cup matches. AAMI's stands are not steep enough, and the ground surface is too large - only a complete rebuilding of AAMI would make it suitable. Hindmarsh could never be upgraded to have the necessary capacity (40,000) for World Cup games, while the traditionalists would not want extensive upgrades made to Adelaide Oval, as it would rid it of it's beauty (and I agree with them).

Having said all that, an upgrade to Hindmarsh Stadium would be a very good thing - it's not going to be long before 16,000 will not be enough seats to meet demand for United matches. Let's just make sure we look to the future, and in my opinion, if we want to host big games, that future needs to be a new stadium.

On another topic, well done to the Olyroos, who last night beat Jordan 4-0 to book a spot in the final qualifying round for the Beijing Olympics - unfortunately we only managed to finish second in our group, so chances are we will have some very tough games coming up in the final phase of qualification - with winning the group the only way to go to Beijing, the hard work starts now.

Check out the Highlights from last night's game (the last clip, of a Dario Vidosic goal is particularly impressive):

Kind of get's me annoyed that we had no coverage of this game here, while they obviously have good coverage in the middle east - this has been the case for all the Olyroos games, you would have thought someone like SBS or Fox Sports could have shown them here - let's hope these sort of games get tv coverage here in the future - having attended one and seen one streamed on the net, they are certainly worth watching - and last night's performance is another encouraging sign for the future of our national team.

Bye for Now,

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