By Georgia Blom
As a nation we have many differences; some may like different places to go on holiday, others may live in different cities. However, the bond of sharing a hot meat pie and a soft drink with fellow supporters of your favourite football team is something most Australians can relate to. But what would happen if we couldn’t enjoy any of those Australian luxuries?
Could you imagine waiting to see the football, paying your full price adult ticket and not being able to sit down and enjoy the game without standing and looking at one of the screens? This could be you with the increase of fans watching football games around Australia .Many stadiums have not got the capacity to hold the many fans which visit the stadiums each game. We have some amazing stadiums, many are used for soccer and cricket but, AFL is a sport which changes everything.
With the booming population Australian’s are becoming hooked and intrigued into what we know as AFL. Many Stadiums such as Paterson’s Stadium (Perth WA) and Etihad Stadium (Melbourne VIC) are having severe overcrowding problems at many major games, causing many fans to miss out on watching games in comfort .Most football games at Paterson’s stadium can’t hold the 50 000 West Coast Eagles members and the many more who come to watch the game.
With 18 teams, 8 matches a round and $45 a game, you would want to guarantee yourself a seat without fans standing in front so you could see the blockbuster in action. The agony and anger of the fans at the games is turning into violence around the stadium and security can’t keep up with all the fans.
A Liverpool fan after the Hillsborough Event
Many people are referring to the miserable incident at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 which was caused by overcrowding stands and terraces causing 96 deaths and 766 injuries and reflecting with concern on the modern day AFL Stadiums which are crowded and unsafe. Hillsborough survivor Paul Tilston, who experienced first-hand the worst day in sporting history has not emotionally survived and revealed at the time to the Mirror: “I don’t feel anger. It’s more disappointment in humanity. Nothing is ever going to bring back the people who died. But we deserve answers.”
Hillsborough has affected many of the FA community 23 years on and proven that problems with overcrowded stadiums if allowed to escalate, tragedy is sometimes the result.
At the MCG, the most important game of the season each year without fail is the grand final, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. With more Australians showing interest in attending games the MCC Committee has decided to let hundreds of extras into the ground without seating, causing squalled seating conditions around the ground and chaos around the stadium, sending fans into constant frenzies, which is very unsafe for patrons of the arena.
Many fans are now scared of taking their families to the football because of the danger which the football could possibly cause their family. This is causing scared parents and anxious children. Football once used to be a family event, but this overcrowding is going to cause some serious damage if this problem isn’t addressed correctly by the AFL and the owners of the stadiums. It would damage all aspects of the AFL Community if a dangerous brawl was to occur.
With recent violence escalating in large stadiums like the MCG, several brawls are now happening on a weekly basis. With the recent violence which was on a 12 year old Richmond fan at the Richmond v Carlton game. The fan now has bruises around his neck and emotional issues. Not to mention the 26 year old West Coast Eagles fan who was pushed over at the annual Western Derby.
With our government expecting a huge population boom in the next few years, we should expect more violence, disruption and anger towards the stadiums if this problem isn’t dealt with soon.
There are many effective ways to eliminate the problems by building new stadiums. The Western Australian government is replacing Paterson’s Stadium to build a bigger stadium to fit more fans, which is a safer alternative than cramping fans into a smaller venue. With Etihad Stadium becoming quite crowded and MCG having simular problem’s what is the solution, is there one?
Renovating the MCG was a given and has worked well with the completion on The Great Southern Stand, which was deeply missed by fans and security members earlier this season. There is talk of a renovation of Etihad Stadium, which could increase fans by up to 500-700 seats. They could also recreate more stands and seats at Etihad or the bigger solution would be development of a new larger stadium alongside the already standing Etihad Stadium and the MCG.
AFL grand final day (2011)
This new stadium could be placed just outside the Melbourne CBD. Having a stadium there would bring in good revenue because more people will want to attend games knowing it was safer for them and their family. This new stadium could be built with similar aspects to Etihad and the MCG, but hopefully a lot safer and larger.
With these solutions we can eventually dispose of these dangerous problems which are endangering the lives of football fans and the players, who are the reason for this amazing craze.
Hopefully we can eliminate any danger before an incident is to transpire because of this demanding issue.