I have never been to Dolphin Stadium.
In fact, I don’t ever recall spending a night in Redcliffe and perhaps only a family driving holiday many years ago saw me venture into the Moreton Bay Local Government Area.
Some would argue that considering my tense and combative connection with the Brisbane Roar and the entire state of Queensland, it has been wise of me to stay well away from Australia’s third most populated state.
One day, Brisbane and I will hopefully kiss and make up and its football team escape the dreaded “kiss of tipping death” with which I have torched them over the years.
But for now, things remain a little frosty.
Currently, the A-League’s most supported team according to recent data has far bigger fish to fry and more important issues with which to deal in the lead up to the 2021 season.
After a generation of play inside the 52,000-capacity Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the club has made its intentions clear to venture further north and play home matches at the recently improved Dolphin Stadium at Redcliffe.
It is not a completely new idea, with crowds of 9,387 and 9,224 turning up to the ground for the club’s matches against Melbourne City and Perth Glory respectively in 2020.
With a capacity of 11,500, the atmosphere enjoyed by fans and the view afforded them were vastly improved on the circumstances in existence at Suncorp.
With Sydney FC fans enjoying the champions’ move to Netstrata Jubilee and Leichhardt Oval last season, Brisbane have now laid out a plan to tread a similar path; one oft requested by many Australian football fans sick of viewing matches in cavernous and soulless stadiums, designed and purpose built for other codes and activities.
Despite an agreement between Brisbane Roar and Stadiums Queensland that should have seen Roar play at least one more season out of their long-time home, the club has been proactive and moved decisively with just seven weeks remaining before kick-off.
In official correspondence, Brisbane Roar members received an email where a clear intention to depart Suncorp ASAP was expressed in no uncertain terms.
“The club will be looking to play it’s a-League fixtures at Dolphin Stadium for the coming season with a number of W-League Matches as double headers or a stand alone fixture.”
Expectedly, reaction has been mixed.
Many Roar fans residing north of the state capital are embracing the idea; in the full knowledge that attendance at home matches will now involve an easier and less time consuming commute.
People as far north as Caboolture will now face a mere 30-minute trip down the coast to Redcliffe.
In contrast, residents of the southern Brisbane suburbs will be well and truly peeved that physically supporting the men in orange will now involve a potential doubling of their time in transit.
As an example, a friend of mine resides in Sunnybank, south of the CBD. A drive to Dolphin Stadium without traffic looks likely to take around 45 minutes.
Matches played in the 7.30pm timeslot could well result in that time being extended somewhat, with a post-COVID 19 Brisbane hopefully beginning to resemble its vibrant and bustling self in the near future.
As with most decisions, there will be winners and losers. Sadly, Roar fans who previously travelled extensive distances from the south may well be forced into their lounges rather than cars; unable to muster the energy to initiate what could be quite an arduous and slow trip north.
Others will be clapping their hands with glee, pleased as punch that a similarly stressful trip south into the busy CBD is no longer required.
Should the numbers effectively cancel each other out, I guess the change will eventually become one of those “it is what it is” scenarios, and potentially forgotten by all bar those rendered incapable of watching their team play live.
New manager Warren Moon seemed mystified by the dissatisfaction emanating from some quarters, stating rather flippantly that he couldn’t “see what the big deal is.”
Perhaps a photo of a family all kitted out in Roar gear, waving flags and enjoying a sunny afternoon of A-League action might alter his view, particularly once he discovered that mum and dad would not be renewing memberships due to the unlikelihood of attending matches.
No doubt, a successful Roar would see that family replaced by one further north and should the financial bottom line remain constant or even improve slightly in terms of memberships and attendance, the suits in Brisbane will be happy.
However, as many fans have already expressed, there are wounded and hurt Roar people who will miss seeing their improving squad in action this season.
Sadly, at a time when we need them most, a small group of A-League fans in Brisbane will not be buying memberships, tickets to matches, hot dogs, pies, drinks and/or merchandise. Instead, they will be hoping to watch their team on an ever shrinking Fox Sports coverage.
If this is indeed the final season of Fox’s involvement with the A-League, who knows where and when those fans will get to see Brisbane Roar in action in 2022.