It’s the stadiums, stupid

Nick Symonds Roar Rookie

By Nick Symonds, Nick Symonds is a Roar Rookie

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    New stadiums are critical to A-League expansion and promotion-relegation. Without a good stadium you can’t host a team.

    The trouble is that there aren’t many stadiums in major cities outside of Sydney which would be suitable for new teams in the A-League.

    In Brisbane there’s Ballymore, Dolphin Oval and QSAC which has an athletics track.

    In Melbourne there’s Lakeside Stadium which also has an athletics track.

    Adelaide and Perth don’t even have any suitable second stadiums.

    In the regions you have good stadiums in Wollongong, Canberra, Gold Coast and Townsville while new stadiums are planned in Tasmania, Darwin, Sunshine Coast and Geelong.

    Some of these stadiums such as Robina or the new stadium in Townsville are just too large and smaller stadiums suitable for the size of the market might need to be built to replace them.

    Other stadiums are in areas where there would be little support for a team or have poor connections to transport links.

    Then you have current A-League teams in stadiums that are too big like Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix.

    These teams should preferably have new boutique stadiums.

    Most new stadiums that are built should have 10-15,000 seats as recommended in the proposal for the Australian Premier League.

    In the case of larger teams their stadiums shouldn’t be any larger than 25-30,000 at most. Augsburg Arena would be a good example.

    Then you have to ask how many stadiums you need and how much they would cost.

    The number of teams across two divisions of 16 teams each comes to 32.

    If you use the projected upper cost of Tasmania’s stadium of $40 million as a guide that’s a lot of money.

    A 10,000 seat stadium like Dolphin Oval at a cost of around $15 million would lower this considerably but would still be pricey.

    It’s highly unlikely that government will spend money on stadiums for the old mono ethnic teams so you can count them out.

    This just leaves new teams based on geography who could find government funding and regional teams clearly have the edge in this regard.

    The only way the old teams could get stadium funding from government is if they merge together.

    In the north of Melbourne Green Gully are open to a joint zonal bid similar to Dandenong for example.

    The most likely way for the process to occur, I think, would be to start with a 3-5,000 seat grandstand along one of the sidelines and build up from there.

    Something like this would be appropriate for a team in a national second division.

    In terms of where the money is coming from to run the second division I don’t think that any of it should come from FFA, they’re just too much hassle.

    Instead the second division should be run independently and do all its own TV deals and raise all of its own revenue, none of this should go back to FFA, at least not initially.

    When teams can prove they have financial support and can draw good numbers in a second division then you can start to look at promotion and relegation between both divisions.

    But the availability of stadiums will be key to how this process occurs.