Wanderers and Eels unite29/04/2019 - Author: admin - Comments are closed
Strange bedfellows: the Western Sydney Wanderers and Parramatta Eels have teamed up in a bid to get Parramatta Stadium a much-needed upgrade.Parramatta and the Western Sydney Wanderers might be cross-code rivals, but they have joined forces in their campaign for a better stadium.
Eels officials have been in talks with their Wanderers counterparts about their future venue needs, with a revamp of Parramatta Stadium or the construction of a new facility in the region their preference. The teams are in heated competition for fans, members and sponsors, but they have found common ground in their desire to provide them with the best possible amenities. Both have ambitions of building membership bases that far outstrip the 20,000-seat capacity of their current premises.
Eels chief executive Ken Edwards, who has extensive experience in stadiums strategy as the former chief executive of ANZ Stadium, confirmed he was in talks with Wanderers officials. ”We’ve had some discussions with the Wanderers around what their plans and what our plans are,” Edwards said. ”Our public position is that Parramatta is our home and where we always want to be. At the end of 2012 we had 12,000 members and now we have 16,000 members. Our market research, coupled with the work we’ve done with the NRL, tells us we should have up to 40,000 members by 2017.
”That obviously brings into sharp focus our stadium issues in terms of capacity and the facilities that go with it. Parramatta Stadium was built in the ’80s, and pretty much nothing has happened to it since then. In the meantime, there have obviously been redevelopments at ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium, meaning that, as a club, unless there are upgrades at Parramatta Stadium we are at a significant financial disadvantage and our members aren’t getting the sorts of facilities other members are getting. Anything that we and the Wanderers can do to get a better facility at Parramatta Stadium – or a new facility somewhere in Parramatta – is a good thing.”
Parramatta have managed to grow their membership base during difficult times on the field – they ”won” the wooden spoon last year – while attendances for home matches remain fairly stable. However, the Wanderers became the hottest ticket in town during their fabled run to the A-League grand final. Their supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc, grew exponentially throughout the club’s debut season, and Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop is on record as calling for an upgrade of Parramatta Stadium ”based on the phenomenal success of the Wanderers in year one which has seen three sold-out matches”.
The NSW government has outlined a stadium consolidation strategy, with ARL Commission boss David Smith confirming there will be a move towards playing matches in two or three larger venues in future. The Eels also plan to create a centre of excellence to replace their aged training facilities.
Asked if they could share a high-performance unit with the Wanderers, Edwards said: ”It’s very difficult to share high-performance facilities, there aren’t too many examples that we’re aware of where that works. Our rugby league high-performance training requirements are very different to those of football. That’s not to say it couldn’t work … While have been having some informal discussions with the Wanderers we haven’t done anything formal with them. We’re still pursuing our own stand-alone high-performance community centre.”
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.