Glory forced into rebuilding stage

While Hyundai A-League attendances on are the up, Perth Glory are counting the cost of playing in a half-built stadium.

Amid all the good news over the Hyundai A-League-s increased attendances and the inflamed passion of the supporter groups, Perth Glory are having to play their home games in a building site, as nib Stadium undergoes a huge redevelopment.

Glory owner Tony Sage has already expressed his frustrations with the timing of the rebuild, which has meant Perth bearing the brunt while Super rugby side Western Force will get a fully operational venue for the start of their season.

Sage has suggested it might even be cheaper for the club to develop their own ground, which would offer long-term savings on match-day costs.

"Every home game costs me personally between $30,000 and $60,000," Sage told Fox Sports earlier in the season.

"We-ve found a site, and it would cost us between $5 million and $10 million to get it up to scratch.”

Glory-s average attendance last season was 8,320 but the club require at least 11,000 to break even, and with capacity currently capped at that figure and with pre-existing corporate arrangements reducing the availability for paying customers, the club have twice had to turn fans away from the ground this season.

Yet despite the obvious impact in a season they are expected to challenge for honours, those associated with the club remain philosophical about the changes and what the new stadium could offer.

With full completion expected between July-October this year, the stadium will have a 20,565 capacity, with a new pitch and two new big video screens, whic the club previously had to pay for.

Glory deputy chairman Lui Giuliani says the redevelopment has affected attendances but the decision to stay or move won-t be made until the pros and cons of the upgrade become clearer.

“Ideally for us it would have happened outside our season but having it during our season has a big impact on crowds,” Giuliani says.

“We-ve had two lockouts already this season and to some extent being a construction site it-s kept some people away and we-ve had to move fans from the eastern side of the ground to other areas.

“The capacity is now up to 11,000. It-s a complex formula - you-ve got sponsor seats we can-t sell, and after that allocation we need 11,000 paying people and we can-t reach that in the current limited capacity. Having said all this, the state government have assisted us and provided some compensation and we-re appreciative of that.

“There is no immediate direction to go to another stadium but that-s always up for review. We-re waiting to see what the completed stadium looks like, and what the costs involved are in the final product.

“They are putting in video screens and upgrading the audio equipment, which has in the past cost us money. But if these are improved and no longer cost us additional amounts, this will help in the decision process to stay. But we-re not at a final point to say what it will cost at the new stadium.”

Yet despite the building works going on around them, both players and fans say the effect on the matchday experience hasn-t been that great.

“It-ll be awesome when it-s finished but I don-t think it makes any major difference at this stage,” Colin Sharland, a member of The Shed, told footballaustralia.com.au.

“We normally get around 10,000 anyway, so to have a half-empty 20,000 stadium would probably detract from it a little bit. Obviously we want more fans through the door but the atmosphere in The Shed-s just the same. I think we-ll get back up to the 15-16,000 - but then that all depends on whether they get their act together on the field.”

Glory defender Scott Jamieson admits he does notice the lack of fans when playing on the opposite side but says ultimately, he has plenty of other things to keep him busy.

“It-s not ideal,” Jamieson says, “but the noise generated by the Shed is pretty good, and it-ll only improve as more seats go in. We can only deal with what we-ve got and once the stadium is finished I-m sure it-ll be brilliant.

“When I-m over that side I feel a bit lonely. I used to get abuse when I ran down that side playing for the opposition and I was kind of hoping for a bit of support there - but I only see a few construction workers down there now and they shout out. It-s alright - I-ve got the opposition to keep me on my toes.”

But with stage one due for completion in March, Glory could yet have a gleaming new venue just in time for the finals series, should they make it that far - and having 20,000 fans at the most important stage of the season would no doubt erase any lingering memories of scaffolding and silence.