Sports

Perth’s AFL ticket shortage myth exposed (hint: there isn’t one)

Is Western Australia losing its appetite to go to the footy?

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett conceded the crowd of 53,553 for the first game at the new Perth Stadium — between the Eagles and Sydney — had fallen short of expectations.

The reason for the low crowd and the blocks of empty seats was pinned on a late release of previously-allocated tickets.

This included unused staff seats, unused seats that had been reserved for TV cameras and the late release of around 2,000 of unsold Eagles "flexi-memberships".

A screenshot of a ticketing agency website showing pockets of empty seating at Perth Stadium.

The teething issues with transport to and from the stadium have also been talked about as a factor.

Right now, it's fair to say it's not as easy as it should be to get in and out of the precinct.

The delayed stadium footbridge is expected to be completed by the end of May, which will ease some of the congestion, with 14,000 people expected to use the bridge on game days. It remains to be seen how accurate that forecast is.

The fact you can't get dropped off or catch an Uber to the ground is another drawback, but the State Government doesn't think that's an issue.

"We saw significant numbers go to the women's game, we saw significant numbers go to Ed Sheeran. I really think it just a mix of that ticketing and I am sure that is something that will be worked through," Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said this week.

Footy attendance down

But is there a bigger issue at play here?

Figures show football crowds in Perth aren't quite what they used to be.

Fremantle's Stephen Hill acknowledges the crowd

At the 43,500-capacity Subiaco Oval, West Coast's home attendance average peaked at 41,117 in its premiership season of 2006. It has been a gradual decline since then.

Last season it was 36,751, despite the club having a lengthy list of "in the wings" members waiting to get access to a season ticket.

Fremantle's average home attendance peaked a year later in 2007 at 37,474. During its most successful season in 2013, when the club made the grand final and hosted a preliminary final, its average home attendance was 35,015. Last year it was 32,375.

Even in 2015 when there were four finals played at Subiaco, including two prelims, tickets were still available for some of those games on the day of the event.

Perception and reality

There has been a bit of myth for a while, perpetuated for whatever reason, about it being impossible to get tickets to AFL games in Perth.

The truth is that if you're desperate to get a ticket to the footy, you can get it, and it has been that way for some time — even before the move to Burswood.

There is a real buzz at the moment about Perth's new stadium, which should mean both clubs' average attendance records will be broken this season, even though neither club is tipped to figure heavily in finals.

A wideshot of Perth Stadium during an AFL game with pockets of empty seating.

The real test will come later in the year if the results don't come.

It's also worth mentioning pay TV subscribers now have access to every game of AFL, every weekend, live.

So even if you have a membership, on a Sunday afternoon when you have work the next morning, the easy option is to sit in the comfort of your own living room and watch the match on TV.

But perhaps the biggest thing that needs to change is the thinking of the WA football public.

For a long time, it was thought to be impossible to get a ticket to the football in Perth.

The reality is a long way from that.

On most occasions you can get up on a Saturday morning, decide to go to a game and you'll be able to get a ticket. Perth footy fans need to wake up to this fact.

Original Article

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