Force, Glory face stadium uncertainty
The long-term futures of Super 14 side Western Force and A-League outfit Perth Glory are in jeopardy unless the WA State government agrees to pledge $73 million to upgrade Members Equity Stadium, according to the two Perth-based clubs.
The Force have played at Subiaco Oval since their inception in 2006 but fans are clearly displeased with the viewing arrangements at a venue specifically designed to host Australian Rules football.
The Force's average home crowds have plummeted to 18,285 this season, a drop of more than 10,000 from their inaugural year of '06.
The Force will move to the 18,000 capacity Members Equity Stadium next year but the club fears it will be dragged into the red unless the State Government spends $73 million upgrading facilities and increasing the capacity to 25,000.
The Glory are also desperate for an upgrade, with chief executive Scott Gooch revealing the club is forced to spend an additional $20,000 every home game just to ensure the venue meets minimum A-League standards.
"And that figure more than likely will be a little bit more this season," Gooch said.
"We got together with the ground management and tried to underwrite a Socceroos game but the ground doesn't meet the minimum requirements for an Asian Cup qualifier.
"We are also missing out on significant revenue opportunities because there's only a minimum number of quality corporate facilities available to us.
"So any new development would certainly offer us additional benefits and opportunities to raise additional revenue from a corporate point of view."
A report by Melbourne company LEK Consulting found the Force would lose millions of dollars and thus become unviable if had stayed at Subiaco Oval, leaving them with little choice but to switch to Members Equity Stadium.
"As the report stipulates, the implications of continuing at Subiaco Oval in the long term calls into question the future of Super 14 rugby in Perth," Force chief executive Greg Harris said.
"This independent report by a highly respected international consulting firm clearly finds that a move to an upgraded Members Equity Stadium is crucial to the survival and future success of the Emirates Western Force.
"Our supporters are voting with their feet and sending a clear message that Subiaco Oval is unsuitable as a venue for watching a rugby match.
"This is an urgent issue for us.
"If we get the go ahead from the State Government in the next months the Force could be playing at a fully upgraded, 25,000 capacity Members Equity by the 2012 season."
Gooch said the Glory had posted a loss of about $1.5 million from the previous season.
Tony Sage has been left as the sole owner after Brett McKeon and John Spence jumped ship amid ballooning costs.
An upgrade of Members Equity Stadium is also crucial to the hopes of rugby league side WA Reds being granted entry into the National Rugby League by 2012.