Should we be fixing it if it ain’t actually broke?

29 March 2018 Comments 0

A hot topic that has struck me in the short time I’ve been in Sydney is the issue of stadiums.

My mate, journalist and prolific author Peter FitzSimons, has written about the issue at length and much more eloquently than I could so I won’t try to. Have a look here and here, for a start.

The issue in a nutshell is this.

The state government wants to tear down two stadiums: the Olympic Stadium (currently ANZ Stadium) that opened in 1999 – yes, 19 years ago – and the Sydney Football Stadium (currently Allianz Stadium) that was opened in 1988.

Not refurbish; not renovate; but tear down and rebuild on the same spot. Wait for it – at a cost of more than $2.5 billion. Billion.

Fortunately, it appears that some common sense has prevailed within the NSW Government with the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian announcing on Easter Thursday that they would most likely only proceed with knocking down one of them – Sydney Football Stadium – and refurbishing the Olympic Stadium.

The original suggestion was an egregious use of taxpayers’ funds, and I would still argue that, even the new compromise arrangement is unnecessary.

Anyone who’s been to Sydney Football Stadium can see it is in need of freshening-up but it really isn’t that broke that it needs to come down. In fact, the management of the stadium could upgrade it in the eyes of many simply by having some 21st century catering options rather than the cholesterol-inducing junk food they have on offer.

In terms of the Olympic Stadium, an 88,000 seater built for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, for the life of me I can’t see how anyone – let alone a government that is supposed to carefully manage our money and provide so many other services – would think it is a good idea for a 19-year-old stadium to be torn down. Seriously?! Did the architects and builders really get it that wrong?

I speak here as a punter who’s attended many sporting events and concerts at both venues.

The government, and the shock-jocks and others who support this, say that in order to compete for major world events – such as the men’s and women’s football World Cups, the Rugby World Cup and more – the stadiums have to be demolished to meet the standards required.

There are so many other things the government could spend its money on – schools, hospitals, more teachers, more nurses, more doctors – but let’s just say they really, really want to and have to spend this money to help sporting infrastructure.

Why not improve the public transport links to both venues? They are both fairly much nightmares, especially Sydney Football Stadium which has zero natural transport links to it.

Why not put the money into grassroots sporting clubs, by improving their facilities, introducing artificial turf so they can get more use, or by expanding parkland for clubs so more children can play (one of the biggest inhibitors to growth in sport participation)?

A petition for the government to just stop it, and do something sensible with the money, started by FitzSimons has now gathered more than 200,000 signatures.

But the opponents of the petition, and supporters of the multi-billion dollar expenditure say the petition is really signed by people who don’t care about sport, who wouldn’t ever go to the stadiums for an event, and who are just wanting to oppose the government for the sake of it.

So I thought I’d ask SKINS users and readers what you think. You love sport, play sport, ‘do’ sport, and go to sport, and probably music events also.

Please complete our online poll. We’ll keep it open for a week or so, and let you know in a couple of weeks how everyone voted.

Online poll link here