Adelaide United must increase crowds to warrant a new stadium

Liam Sheedy Roar Guru

By Liam Sheedy, Liam Sheedy is a Roar Guru

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27 Have your say

    A new rectangular stadium in Adelaide has been an ongoing discussion, especially in the last year, with the city’s A-League club seeking support to turn this dream into a reality.

    Not only do the Reds hierarchy believe it is important for the State Government to support the only South Australian club in the A-League, but it is also vital to help grow the world game in the local market.

    But a new stadium seems a distant dream right now.

    Why can’t we be friends
    Sports minister Leon Bignell has made it perfectly clear that until crowd numbers improve, any talk of a new stadium is mute.

    United are also having issues as a current tenant with Adelaide Venue Management, who run Coopers stadium, and Chief Executive Anthony Kirchner in particular.

    The lease at Hindmarsh is due to expire in May next year and there is much work to repair this relationship if the tenure is to be extended.

    If Adelaide United is not managing the stadium itself under a new deal, it desires increased control in the overall operation as a major ground tenant.

    The Reds have not ruled out a possible move to a new location at the end of the current deal.

    Earlier this year, Norwood Oval was discussed as a potential home, but these discussions do not appear to have advanced past initial consultation.

    It is hard to imagine the configuration of Norwood Oval being appropriate or met with fans approval for that matter.

    Current fan demand
    Last year, United bosses suggested the Reds had outgrown Hindmarsh stadium. Crowd numbers last season and this year would suggest this is not quite accurate.

    Interviewed on 5AA last week, Greg Griffin was straight to the point as usual with his crowd expectations for the upcoming home clash against Sydney: “We will fill Hindmarsh Friday night.”

    While weather played a part, it was disappointing the night contest against the best team only drew a crowd of 7021.

    The first game at Coopers this season attracted a crowd of 11,689. The next three home games have not broken the 10,000 barrier.

    The one home game this season at Adelaide Oval saw the biggest attendance of the year to date, in front of 19,416 fans.

    Was this because it was against Melbourne Victory? The first home game of the year? Or helped by the fact the game was played in the city?

    Ignore code wars and embrace all
    While there will always be those who engage in mindless bashing of other codes, plenty follow multiple sports and are not interested in the squabbles.

    There is obviously interest in the A-League but not enough fans engaged in turning up on a more regular basis. An issue not just applicable to Adelaide United.

    The majority of AFL fans in South Australia are Crows or Power fans. With plenty of seats available at Hindmarsh and with the AFL primarily not clashing with the A-League, it makes sense to try and win more support from AFL circles.

    The relationship that exists between United and Port Adelaide is an interesting sub-plot, given the history United owner Rob Gerard and most notably Greg Griffin has with the AFL club.

    Is it a major issue? Maybe not. But if you are a Power fan with some passing interest in football and are thinking about investing time and money in the local team, then why would you actively support an organisation that runs down the AFL club you support?

    The commentary just does not seem to serve any purpose. Rather than risk the possibility of alienating a potential customer base, maybe best to not fan the flames.

    Finance and marketing
    Adelaide United need to continue to make their brand more visible and appealing to the general public.

    Members and regular patrons will likely feel the product is good quality, deserving of the money they spend. But if crowd numbers do not reflect positively then ticketing cost is something to ponder.

    As a friend of mine remarked at the last AU game we went to at Coopers, “There is something fundamentally wrong when a seat in the western grandstand tonight cost me more than attending some Premier League fixtures when I was on holiday.”

    A general admission ticket at Coopers is $26 plus booking fee. Pricing may not require a complete overhaul, but simple supply and demand dictates the mix is not quite right.

    Maybe Sydney FC are on the right track for the game at Allianz this week. Discounted food and drink prices is a nice reward. Currently many sporting venues require a personal loan before you can afford a beer and some hot chips.

    Set the foundation for an upgrade
    A lot of pundits share the view ‘build it and they will come’, with the AFL clubs’ move to Adelaide oval cited as a prime example of the benefits a stadium in the city provides.

    Unfortunately, the best compromise on offer for Adelaide United from the State Government seems to be an expansion at Hindmarsh – if crowds start turning up on a more consistent basis.

    There are plenty of factors for Adelaide United to consider in what they can do and where the long-term future of the club lies.

    But there needs to be an upturn in attendance soon otherwise talk of upgrades and new stadium discussion will fall completely off the radar.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • December 13th 2017 @ 8:45am
      Jim said | December 13th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

      It’s not like Hindmarsh is a million miles away. Basically walking distance from the city. And yes the ticket cost needs to come down.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 9:34am
      Go Reds said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      Sign Tim Cahill! That will help generate some interest.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 9:40am
      Nick Symonds said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      Jia Yuan Group made a bid for AU but got knocked back by Greg Griffin who wanted $20 million rather than market estimates of $10 million. If the SA government put in $10 million to fill the gap then maybe they could get JYG to buy the club and build a new 30,000 seat stadium at their own expense as they are willing to do in Sutherland, perhaps on the site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

      The crowds should improve with the new location as well –

      “The one home game this season at Adelaide Oval saw the biggest attendance of the year to date, in front of 19,416 fans.”

      • December 13th 2017 @ 10:45am
        Tommo said | December 13th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Oval shapped grounds do not appeal to soccer fans. Lack of atmosphere, and the ground to hard and bumpy.

        Maybe when FIFA take over funding would come from them and not state governments.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 10:41am
      marcel said | December 13th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

      Hindmarsh is one of those places that seems to have grown as far as it can…the proximity to Manton St in the north makes it hard to rationally expand the ground any further.

      A long term masterplan would probably necessitate acquiring property to the south and shifting the playing surface in that direction..that would allow for an ultimate expansion of up to 30k.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 11:17am
      Kangajets said | December 13th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

      26 general admission is about the same as the jets

      I find that hard to find the funds to go as a low income earner to the jets gsmes

      Are ticket prices too high for Adelaide and in general I the A league

      • December 13th 2017 @ 11:32am
        Tommo said | December 13th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        Ticket prices should reflect the general interest and standard of play, adjusted on a year to year basis. Reduce the ticket prices and increase food and drinks. User pay.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 11:36am
        marcel said | December 13th 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        KJ..Telstra do a $20 deal to some games if you are a customer…not a huge saving ..but every bit helps

      • December 13th 2017 @ 11:49am
        Jack Russell said | December 13th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Drop it to $15 and you probably would sell a few more tickets. But I doubt you’d sell that many more that there wouldn’t be a drop in revenue.

        Halving prices won’t double crowds.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 2:27pm
        Fadida said | December 13th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

        The average Premier League ticket price is £32 pounds. This isn’t too say that AU tickets aren’t too expensive, because they are. 15k fans at $15 is much better than 7k at $26.

        My eyes tell me that AU crowds are transient because of a) the weather, the ground is 3/4 open so extreme heat or wet has at least a 25% effect

        b) fairweather fans. More than anywhere AU fans seen to be quick to jump on and off the team. Typically crowds start low as fans wait to see how the team will go and then jump to 12k plus if the team look like doing well. This year is one of the exceptions.

        • December 13th 2017 @ 9:23pm
          pacman said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

          A couple of years ago I attended a League 2 match at Cambridge United. Paid at the turnstiles for a concession ticket (65yo +), and it cost me 24 quid ($AU45). The spectator facilities were abysmal, but the playing surface extraordinarily good (put the Qld Govt Suncorp to shame).

          It depends where you are in UK. For instance “In terms of cheapest adult home match-day tickets, the lowest price in the division is Liverpool’s at £9 and the highest is Chelsea’s at £47.” And this is this year, after admission prices have either been frozen, or reduced by a small percentage.

          The problem we have with the A-League, or for that matter, just about any commercial undertaking in Australia, is our lack of economies of scale when comparing with overseas markets. We have high costs, and at present, and possibly for the foreseeable future, a small market. We need some innovation.

          One suggestion. Distribute free admission tickets to all junior players and their junior friends, for EVERY home match. The only stipulation – an admission paying adult for every say, 3 juniors. This could encourage (enforce) many adults to attend with 1 or 2 juniors. The spin offs are obvious.

          I have witnessed a similar approach with the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba a few years ago. Auskick participants were rewarded with, among other things, a free admission ticket for 2 children and 2 adults. Ground attendance was 27,000 with the announcer proudly informing spectators that 7,000 Auskick participants were amongst the crowd. Easy mental arithmetic indicated that there were about, in total, 20,000 freeloaders, possibly more, and unlikely less.

          Now admittedly, A-League clubs can not afford to be this benevolent, but free admission for juniors should surely be within their remit?

          Something to think about?

    • December 13th 2017 @ 12:16pm
      Ken Spacey said | December 13th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

      Bignall is a hypocrite because Port Power became a big drawing product due to the massive investment into AO and other govt backing. At one point a big fixture at Coopers actually outdrew a Port game at the old AAMI venue. AU are not getting enough from total revenue and are paying too much. Kirchner says AU mislead us about crowd projections but I get the feeling that Reds fans are running an employment program for AEC staff, so my money is going to them and not my club. The Olympic games temp seating shows you can get 20,000 as is and there is plenty of scope to at least 25,000 with some imagination. The reds are the only major tenant so they should get more say. The AEC folks occupy too much of the facility and the decision to reduce change rooms from four to two has made Lady Reds double headers more difficult and drawn criticism of the club that should be directed at stadia mgt and government. The govt. are pushing city fringe development so AUFC and Coopers can benefit from that or be seen as being in the way. But the residential popoulation within a five K radius is going to increase sharply in next decade. Coopers could be the main entertainment/social/cultural hub if it’s done right.

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