If you believe WA Sports Minister Mick Murray, the new swanky $2 billion Perth Stadium is “open for all Western ns”.
Well Mr Murray, I was needing a venue for an Irish family reunion around March 10, so would the McGowan government mind bumping the docile, banal and dull NRL double-header planned for that day at the Burswood stadium?
I’m more than happy for Sandgropers to pay a tenner to see a thousand or so Conor McGregor-like Paddies beat each other to the brink of death with a shillelagh after swilling on a few hundred litres of Jamieson, because it would be a better spectacle then any rugby league game.
On Monday, the Labor government announced rugby league clubs South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will open the 2018 NRL season against yet-to-be-announced opponents.
Being an absolute sports geek, I wouldn’t want to reduce anyone’s interest in a game that involves an odd shaped ball into a parody, but isn’t the Rabbitohs mascot called Reggie the Rabbit?
Maybe West Coast’s pet mascot Auzzie the Eagle and Reggie the Rabbit could battle it to the death and the winner’s team gets to open the stadium?
And while it’s foolish of me to direct my bitterness and resentment towards the NRL for getting in first, even rugby-lovers on the east coast will be scratching what’s left of their cauliflower ears, wondering why an Aussie rules-mad state is opening its 60,000-seat stadium when it doesn’t even have a team in the NRL.
Mr Murray claimed while the Eagles and Dockers were squabbling over who should be the first AFL team to play at Burswood, the NRL swooped in.
“We are not going to hold back when people want to use the stadium,” Mr Murray said on Tuesday. “It’s a stadium for all Western ns, not just one particular sport.
“They’ve (NRL) been out, they’ve been proactive, they have been on the front foot… let them come into the town.”
In July, when there were rumours floating around a rugby nines tournament could open the new stadium, I declared I would single-handedly hold 100 Black Swans hostage at the gates of the new Perth Stadium if a Mickey Mouse tournament was the first sporting event at the arena.
“I mean rugby is an interesting sport,” I said at the time. “Who doesn’t enjoy watching 120 kilogram men trying to manoeuvre their index finger up the clacker of their opponent’s backside?”
Mr Murray boldly claimed nobody cared what sporting event opened the venue.
“That stadium out there has cost us nearly $2 billion and here we are saying who is going to be the first to play on it,” he said. “For god’s sake, get over it”.
The truth is the stadium is leaking thousands of WA taxpayers’ dollars every day it remains unopened, so the government wants to recoup every cent it can.
But the reality is, we will probably never know how much extra coin has been flushed down the 800-odd dunnies at the new stadium, so a Western Derby opener in late March was perfect.
And while my argument that the Dockers or Eagles should be the first sporting teams at the new stadium is irrational and gloriously useless because no one in government gives a stuff, I bloody care.
WA is a footy state and thousands of Sandgropers who grew up kicking the footy in the backyard would take pride in seeing a Western Derby be the first sporting event at the stadium.
Even if that game was a preseason clash.
The so-called sporting elite in WA also don’t care what code opens the venue and have been rolling out that misguided idiom “who remembers what event opened the ANZ Stadium or Etihad or the MCG?”
The Communist Party of opened the MCG with their annual egalitarian three-legged egg race didn’t they?
Imagine before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney was held at Stadium and the AFL or WA Football Commission said ‘would guys be kosher with us opening the venue with an AFL game’?
The-then Premier of NSW Bob Carr would’ve sent troop across the Nullarbor.
The unpleasant fact is now a sporting code that no one in WA truly gives a rat’s bottom about will open a stadium that has been three decades in the making.
Mr Murray said “let the people of WA get out there and enjoy it”.
Well, everyone is invited to the Irish reunion shindig on March 10. Just bring your own whiskey and shillelagh.