The stadium issue in Sydney

Back in December 2014, I wrote an article on The Roar about the stadium issue in Sydney, and talked about the various options for sports stadia developments in Sydney.

I talked about ANZ Stadium, and the options for redeveloping the Olympic Stadium that has delivered Australia so many wonderful sporting memories. I talked about the options for Western Sydney, for which they have now decided to go with demolishing and building a new stadium on the land of the old Parramatta Stadium, as well as the options for Allianz Stadium, and for Brookvale Oval, a ground clearly in need of rejuvenation!

However, it has only been in recent times that all the stakeholders have moved to decide which stadiums should be redeveloped or built in Sydney.

As I briefly mentioned before, work on building the new Western Sydney Stadium on the site of the old Parramatta Stadium is well and truly underway with the 30,000-seat stadium set for completion in 2019, but news on the futures of ANZ Stadium, also known as Stadium Australia, and Allianz Stadium, also known as the Sydney Football Stadium, have been recently announced.

ANZ Stadium is set to be demolished and rebuilt into a 75,000-seat stadium, and reconfigured into a rectangular field, meaning that only sports played on a rectangular field, like rugby league, rugby union, and football can be played at the stadium. The stadium is set to feature a retractable roof, meaning that matches can be played in perfect conditions all year round. Construction works will begin in late 2019.

This is a slightly different plan from the one I talked about the stadium back in 2014, which planned on catering for all sports, including Australian rules football, and cricket, as well as having the possibility of hosting major athletics championships, such as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship, due to the ability of being able to reconfigure the stadium from a rectangle to an oval, and vice-versa!

I would prefer that a redeveloped ANZ Stadium was able to cater for all sports (both rectangular and oval), and even if the cost of redevelopment is slightly more than to demolish and rebuild, would it matter if you had more sports and more teams using the venue on a regular basis?

I am not sure if I agree with the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s decision to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium, but I certainly agree that Allianz Stadium needs to be demolished and rebuilt, with construction works for Allianz Stadium beginning at the end of 2018.

The stadium is riddled with so many violations of safety standards, including violations Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Standards, and is not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act in terms of offering the amount of seats/spots for people in wheelchairs to watch their favourite sports from a great vantage point.

In addition, I have heard that the standards of media facilities at Allianz Stadium is poor, as referenced by Phil Gould back in September, and with so many issues with the stadium, it is time for Allianz Stadium to be rebuilt!

However, the issue I have about the rebuild of Allianz Stadium is not that it is going to be rebuilt, but the eventual seating capacity of the new stadium is going to be around 45,000, which is roughly the same amount as it is right now, where in logical reality, it should be at least 5,000 to 10,000 more than that!

Overall, I fully agree to Allianz Stadium being demolished and rebuilt, but I think it is a massive call to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium, and I still believe that it should be a unique stadium that has the ability to cater for a multitude of sports, in all shapes and sizes, and that this could be down by a major redevelopment of the stadium, rather than a total demolition and rebuild job.

Don’t be surprised, perhaps in the near future, that if Sydney wants to host an IAAF World Championships, a Commonwealth Games, or even an Olympic Games that people will start complaining that Sydney doesn’t have an adequate, as in modern, stadium to host these kind of events, and that a brand-new stadium would have to be built, one that is extremely expensive, to cater for these kind of events, even though those same people complaining supported the decision of the NSW Government back in 2017 to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium into a national stadium catering for just rectangular sports!



2017 AFL Grand Final Preview – Adelaide Crows vs. Richmond Tigers

On Saturday afternoon, the 2017 Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final will take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) between the Adelaide Crows, who are looking to win their third premiership, and their first since 1998, and the Richmond Tigers, who are into their first grand final since 1982, and will be looking to win their first premiership since 1980.

The Crows come into the grand final off the back of two finals wins against the GWS Giants in the first week of the finals, and against the Geelong Cats last week in the preliminary final, winning by 36 points and 61 points respectively in each of those two matches. They are the number one scoring team in the AFL (after the regular season), averaging 109.77 points per match, and the fourth-best defensive team (after the regular season), in terms of scoring, conceding on average 80.72 points per match in 2017.

Given the Crows great offensive scoring stats, they are unsurprisingly the number one goal scoring team in the AFL, averaging 16.1 goals per match, but they are fifth for disposals (394.2 per match), first for contested possessions (155.4 per match), third for contested marks (12.5 per match), first for marks Inside 50 (14.7 per match), third for hit-outs (45 per match), second for clearances (39.6 per match), equal-second for tackles (71.9 per match), fourth for one percenters (50.5 per match), and second for Inside 50s (57.9 per match).

The Tigers come into their first grand final in 35 years off the back of four-straight wins, including two finals wins against the Geelong Cats in week one of the finals by 51 points, and against the GWS Giants in last week’s preliminary final by 36 points. They are only the eighth-best scoring team in the AFL (after the regular season), averaging 90.54 points per match, but are the third-best defensive team in terms of scoring (after the regular season), conceding on average 76.54 points per match.

The Tigers are 15th for disposals (365.8 per match), ninth for contested possessions (143.9 per match), equal-11th for contested marks (10.8 per match), second for marks Inside 50 (14 per match), last for hit-outs (31.9 per match), 14th for clearances (35.6 per match), equal-sixth for tackles (69.8 per match), equal-sixth for one percenters (47.5 per match), third for Inside 50s (55.8 per match), and ninth in terms of goal scoring (13.1 per match).

And while the Crows look more dominant compared to the Tigers as far as the statistics are concerned, the Tigers do have the 2017 Brownlow Medallist in their team in Dustin Martin.

Martin has had a career-best season in 2017, being the best on ground on 11 occasions (as voted by the field umpires), which is the most in history, and tallied 36 votes, which is a record amount of votes for a Brownlow Medallist in a year, and was the only Richmond players to poll into double figures.

Martin is equal-ninth in average disposals (29.8 per match), seventh in average contested possessions (14.2 per match), eighth in average clearances (6.5 per match), and first in average Inside 50s (6.1 per match).

However, the Crows have been more of a team-first orientated club in 2017, with four players polling into double figures in the 2017 Brownlow Medal count, including Sam Jacobs (10), Rory Atkins (10), Matt Crouch (11), and Rory Sloane (20).

Sloane has had a superb year for Adelaide, being 13th in average contested possessions (13.4 per match), equal-10th in average clearances (6.4 per match), equal-fourth for average tackles (7.8 per match), and equal-13th for average Inside 50s (4.5 per match).

The Crows and the Tigers have only played against each other once in 2017, which was at the Adelaide Oval back in Round Six, when the Crows smashed the Tigers by 76 points, but as far as the records of both teams at the MCG in 2017, it looks quite promising for both teams.

Richmond have won 11 of their 13 matches at the MCG in 2017, only losing to the Fremantle Dockers (Round 8), and the Sydney Swans (Round 13), while Adelaide are undefeated in 2017 in their only three matches at the MCG, winning against Hawthorn (Round 2), and Carlton (Round 15), before drawing with Collingwood (Round 19), with Mitch McGovern (who will miss the grand final) kicking a goal after the siren to level the scores for the Crows.

However, with many of the spectators on Saturday likely to be Richmond supporters, it moves the match closer to a 50/50 contest, but with the grand final being a neutral occasion, it moves the odds more in favour with the better team, and that is the Crows.

I think it will be tight contest for at least three-and-a-half quarters, but I think the Adelaide Crows will pull away late to win by 18 points on the last Saturday in September to return to the holy grail of Australian rules football for the first time since 1998.

AFL Finals – Preview

The Australian Football League (AFL) Finals Series begins this week on Thursday night with the Adelaide Crows hosting the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants at the Adelaide Oval in the first qualifying final, but what a season it has been, arguably the tightest of them all!

The minor premiers for 2017, the Adelaide Crows, scored 62 competition points, which is the least competition points by the winners of the minor premiership in the AFL since St Kilda in 1997, who achieved 60 competition points in topping the ladder ahead of Geelong on percentage, similar to what the Crows have done this year, finishing ahead of Geelong on percentage. It is also the least amount of wins by a minor premier since St Kilda also achieved 15 wins back in 1997.

However, since the current AFL finals system was introduced back in 2000, only six minor premiers (Essendon in 2000, Port Adelaide in 2004, West Coast Eagles in 2006, Geelong in 2007, Collingwood in 2010, and Hawthorn in 2013) have gone onto claim the premiership, but only one team that finished outside the top four in the regular season has gone onto win the premiership, which was the Western Bulldogs last year in a finals run that captivated the entire nation.

Sadly though for the Western Bulldogs, they haven’t made the top eight in season 2017, and we will have a different premiership winner, so let’s have a look at all of the finals contenders, and attempt to determine who will give a strong effort in a premiership tilt.

Adelaide Crows (1st) (62 points) (Percentage: 136%)

The Crows have claimed their second minor premiership, and have been in most people’s view the best team so far in 2017, winning their opening six matches of the season before losing two in a row, first against North Melbourne in Hobart, where they were sensationally held scoreless in the opening quarter, and then against Melbourne at home at the Adelaide Oval.

Since then, their longest winning streak has been just four matches, however within an unbeaten run of seven matches from Round 15 to Round 21, and a number of players have starred for the Crows in 2017, including Matt Crouch (averaging 33 disposals per game), Rory Laird (averaging 30.1 disposals per game), Rory Sloane (averaging 13.5 contested possessions per game), Sam Jacobs (averaging 40.1 hit outs per game), as well as Taylor Walker (49 goals), Eddie Betts (49 goals), and Josh Jenkins (40 goals).

They play the Giants in week one, but they haven’t played each other since Round One back in March, so it will be interesting to see how they match up against each other, but it should be a blockbuster.

Geelong Cats (2nd) (62 points) (Percentage: 117.4%)

Geelong have shown themselves to being one of the best sporting clubs in Australia, and are making their 10th finals appearance in the last 11 years in 2017, and while they have a strong squad, with the likes of Patrick Dangerfield (averaging 30.3 disposals, 18.3 contested possessions, and 7.7 clearances per game), Mitch Duncan (averaging 29 disposals per game), Joel Selwood (13.9 contested possessions per game), and Tom Hawkins (48 goals) starring in 2017, you sense the Cats are flying under the radar a touch, but they are a premiership as much as they ever have been!

Richmond (3rd) (60 points) (Percentage: 118.3%)

Richmond are looking to end the pain of their long-suffering fans by winning a finals match for the first time since 2001, and have a double-chance in the finals for the first time since then as they make their fourth finals appearance in five seasons.

They have a great chance too, and the performances of Dustin Martin (averaging 30.3 disposals, 14.2 contested possessions, and 6.6 clearances per game), and Jack Riewoldt have really led the Tigers into the position that they are currently in, and while I think they will be a huge challenge for the Cats on Friday night, it won’t be an easy task for them to win their first finals game since 2001, either in week one, or week two should they lose in week one.

GWS Giants (4th) (60 points) (Percentage: 114.9%)

The GWS Giants are making just their second finals appearance in the club’s history, and while they have made the top four easily enough in 2017, you sense this year has been harder for the team being the hunted, as oppose to being the hunters, being involved in eight matches that have been decided by 12 points or less, winning five, losing one, and drawing two, experiences that may well come in handy in the finals.

They have a number of big name players that have the potential to star in September, with the likes of Josh Kelly (averaging 29.2 disposals per game), Callan Ward (averaging 12 contested possessions per game), Dylan Shiel (averaging 11.7 contested possessions per game), Shane Mumford (38.2 hit outs per game), as well as Jeremy Cameron (45 goals), Jonathon Patton (42 goals), and Toby Greene (41 goals) all ready to make an impact, starting with the Crows on Thursday night.

Port Adelaide (5th) (56 points) (Percentage: 129.7%)

Port Adelaide, like Geelong, have been floating under the radar heading into the finals, but like the Cats, should be considered as premiership contenders! And, with players such as Ollie Wines (averaging 27.3 disposals, and 13.6 contested possessions per game), Robbie Gray (47 goals), and Charlie Dixon (46 goals), they are a strong, outside chance for the flag, and should defeat an inconsistent West Coast Eagles team on Saturday night.

Sydney Swans (6th) (56 points) (Percentage: 126.8%)

We all thought that their season was all but over after starting the season with six-straight losses. We all thought that their season was over after they lost to Hawthorn in Round 10 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), but in their last 16 matches of the regular season, the Sydney Swans have won 14 of them, only losing two (both against Hawthorn) to make the finals, becoming the first side to start the season 0-6 to make the finals.

Josh P. Kennedy (averaging 28.6 disposals, 15.1 contested possessions, and 6.9 clearances per game), Luke Parker (averaging 13.4 contested possessions, and 6.4 clearances per game), and Lance Franklin (69 goals and the Coleman Medal) have been the stars for Sydney, and while they are outside of the top four, I believe they can still win the flag, and I believe they will defeat Essendon on Saturday.

Essendon (7th) (48 points) (Percentage: 106.5%)

Essendon are into the finals for the first time since 2014, and after winning the wooden spoon last year, in part due to missing 12 players who were suspended due to the infamous supplements saga that engulfed the club from 2013 until 2016, they have rebounded back in superb style, and while players like Zach Merrett (averaging 30.4 disposals per game), Joe Daniher (62 goals), and Cale Hooker (41 goals) have starred for the club this year, it is hard to see them making an impact in the finals.

West Coast Eagles (8th) (48 points) (Percentage: 105.7%)

The West Coast Eagles have made it to the finals, but only just, after a 29 point victory in Round 23 against the Adelaide Crows, boosting their percentage by just enough to leap-frog Melbourne, and take eighth position on the ladder.

However, despite having star players such as Andrew Gaff (averaging 29.7 disposals per game), Matt Priddis (averaging 12 contested possessions per game), and Josh J. Kennedy (65 goals) among many others, I can’t see them getting past the first week of the finals.

Overall thoughts

My gut feel tells me that all the close games that the GWS Giants have been involved in this year will help them towards their first premiership, but I am not prepared to rule out any of the top six teams from winning the flag in 2017 just yet.