Fowler supports boutique A-League stadiums

Austadiums   |  Monday 2nd December 2019

Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler would like to see more A-League matches played at smaller boutique stadiums to enhance the atmosphere.

The club called the 52,500-capacity Suncorp Stadium home since its inception, and this season is also playing three home games at the 10,000-capacity Dolphin Stadium at Redcliffe.

A near-sold-out crowd of 9,387 attended the first match at the Redcliffe venue in round six, where the Roar came from behind to defeat Melbourne City 4-3 in a thriller. The packed crowd produced a memorable atmosphere and looked the goods to viewers on TV.

"I think it was proven the other weekend against Melbourne just how good that little boutique stadium is. The overall general game, was a lot better because of the atmosphere" Fowler said.

The A-League club will play another two matches at Dolphin Stadium this season – round 20 v Perth Glory and round 27 v Newcastle Jets.

Suncorp Stadium, regarded as one of Australia’s best rectangular stadiums, has averaged 13,725 for A-League matches going into Saturday’s match against Central Coast Mariners. A crowd of 11,763 witnessed the 2-0 win, just 22% of capacity, leaving over 40,000 seats empty.

"The A-League has been like this for a number of years now where we have teams playing maybe in stadiums that are too big," said the Liverpool legend.

"I'm all for playing in little stadiums, getting the crowds as big as possible, as noisy as you can. We'll address that in the coming months and the coming year I think."

NPL QLD team Brisbane Strikers had proposed a redevelopment of their Perry Park base into a 15,000 all-seat stadium as part of their A-League bid, however that was scrapped when they pulled out of the expansion race in March 2018.

Then in December 2018, the Stadiums Queensland Taskforce released their final report, which recommended Ballymore to be discontinued as a major venue and no new boutique stadiums to be built in the state, meaning the likelihood of a new venue appears doubtful.

With A-League crowds dipping in recent seasons, there has been calls to play matches at smaller venues, while some clubs have been forced to. Melbourne Victory continue to play a handful of matches per season at Marvel Stadium, despite non-derby crowds below AAMI Park’s capacity. Sydney FC are playing at Jubilee Stadium and Leichhardt Oval during the redevelopment of the Sydney Football Stadium.

Meanwhile, new A-League club Western United is playing the majority of its home matches at Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium until their purpose-built stadium in Tarneit is built. Construction of the 15,000-seat stadium is yet to commence, but is expected to early in the new year. Early attendances for the club have been disappointing and the club hasn’t ruled out relocating games to smaller venues such as Knights Stadium or Green Gully Reserve.

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