So much has been made of the brand spanking new Bankwest Stadium.
As an Eels fan, I’ve been waiting for this for years. I was eager to finally be back home and no longer travelling to the soulless Olympic Stadium.
The one thing that worried me about the new stadium was that the members who had tickets in the old western grandstand – the Ken Thornett Stand – were informed we’d been moved to the eastern stand to accommodate corporate facilities.
This was disappointing. When the stadium was being built, we’d been told we would be given a seat in roughly the same spot as our old seat.
When I found out about being moved to the eastern side – in the direct line of the afternoon sun, something many of us had avoided by sitting on the western side at both the old stadium and at ANZ – I asked the membership department how they were hoping to combat that issue.
I was assured the stadium was being constructed to ensure the sun wasn’t an issue.
At the end of 2018, we were also issued our new seat details, and we’d all been moved further down the field.
Where I once sat on the 20-metre line, I was now sitting on the goal line. We also had our membership prices jacked up by nearly $100.
If we wanted to sit in the seats we once occupied, it would have nearly been a $200 increase.
I decided to keep the same membership category given the new stadium was supposed to provide the best viewing experience in Australian sport.
I could cope with being moved down to the goal line and this was reinforced when I attended the open day. A clear view wasn’t going to be an issue.
That was until I turned up at 2.00pm on Easter Monday to watch Wentworthville play Wests in the NSW Cup.
Only a brave person was sitting in their seat as the sun scorched down onto the eastern grandstand.
Huge numbers of fans were standing out the back, waiting until only a few minutes before kickoff to take our seats in order to avoid roasting in the sun.
The difficulty with this is that they have very few areas to sit when you’re behind the stands. Standing around for two hours before kickoff with the only seats available being those roasting the sun is not ideal – particularly for older supporters.
It wasn’t a comfortable first half to watch with the sun not dipping behind the stadium until half time, providing us with some respite.
I’m likely going to downgrade my membership next year. The only reason I purchased a membership there as opposed to a general admission ticket was to avoid the sun in those afternoon games.
Well, the general admission supporters were in the shade an hour before kickoff.
It’s disappointing for myself and a lot of other members who are in the same boat.
We’ve been pushed aside for the corporate dollars and lied to over the positioning of our seats.
To sit on the western side requires a financial investment far beyond what I can afford, while it was perfectly affordable three years ago.
I would’ve preferred if they were completely honest with us from the outset and told us upfront that almost the entirety of our old stand was going to be corporate.
I also feel sorry for the Wanderers supporters who will cop it worse when the summer months hit – 40-degree days will be far from comfortable in that stand, and from the looks of it, there isn’t much in the stadium to allow for any form of cooling system.
I like the new stadium. The atmosphere was amazing. It’s a brilliant place to watch live sport.
But the want for corporate dollars has clearly replaced the comfort and concern for members.