Bone’s beef: Why new Reds stadium needs green light from SA Sports Minister Leon Bignell

This article first appeared on The Advertiser's website and can be viewed here.

BUILD it and they will come. In big numbers.

The current stoush between SA Sports Minister Leon Bignell and Adelaide United chairman Greg Griffin is flawed on one side.

I will declare my hand from the start. I have known Greg for almost 40 years and am an Adelaide United fan through and through.

But the Sports Minister’s argument that there will be no new stadium because the Reds can’t fill Hindmarsh is no excuse not to build a new one.

If that was the trigger for new infrastructure here in Adelaide, the Crows and the Power would still be playing at Football Park.

The last time the Crows played on their original home ground at West Lakes in 2013, just 34,653 fans turned up.

That’s about 16,000 short of a full house at the stadium, or 66 per cent capacity.

An embarrassing 24,684 fans turned up earlier in that year to see them take on the Western Bulldogs, just a tad over the club’s smallest ever home crowd of 23,063 in 2011.

Now they’re poor crowds. But not a reason not to build a new stadium.

Bone’s beef: Why new Reds stadium needs green light from SA Sports Minister Leon Bignell
Photo by Sue McKay @KickItToMe

As for the Power, a paltry 16,096 fans watched them play Sydney during their final season at Football Park after home crowds bottomed out at just over 13,000 people.

Fast forward to today at the magnificent new Adelaide Oval, the Crows averaged 46,650 this season and the Power 38,136.

Over to you, Mr Bignell — the case FOR rests.

The poorer the venue gets in the current era of fan engagement and fan comfort, the smaller the crowds get.

Small venues don’t get filled because of their size, they get avoided.

Watching sport is more than just the game. It’s the event. The spectacle. The experience.

The Power’s pre-game entertainment at Adelaide Oval is a great example.

The roof climb and now the new multimillion-dollar lighting set to be unveiled in just a few days time at the Ashes Test are all attractions that puts bums on seats.

Build it, Mr Bignell, and we will come. Leave it as is and many will stay away and watch on TV. The ball is in your hands!

The Reds have been another outstanding sporting success story for this state. They have engaged us all when many thought they could not and brought silverware back to the state.

They have produced some great ambassadors and role models that we are proud of.

Now let’s reward them. And not just the Reds, but the lady Reds. Imagine the opportunity to have superstar Sam Kerr strutting her stuff at our new venue.

Let’s get this state buzzing in a variety of ways and sports. This government has done it before, and it can do it again.

Just give Greg the nod. I think he’s earned it.