Ballarat footy fans without a ticket to Mars Stadium opted to stay away from the showgrounds on Saturday, with estimates of little more than 200 people settling in at the live site for the AFL clash between the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide.
While the roars from the 10,000-strong crowd could be heard clearly from across the fence all afternoon, fans at the live site were left confused when there was no sound from the broadcast in the first two quarters, despite the speakers operating for the opening ceremony. The sound issues were addressed for the second half.
Local footy fans Joe Natoli and Brian Allen were among those who gathered inside the shed at the showgrounds to watch the game and enjoy the ales supplied by Ballarat brewers Athletic Club, Cubby Haus and Red Duck.
For us (with five children) to get tickets would have been difficult, but we can still feel the atmosphere and it’s free so it’s awesome.Danielle Prollius - Ballarat mum
“You really wonder why there’s no sound on the big screens,” Mr Natoli said.
“It seems bizarre and puzzling and disappointing, especially since there was sound for everything else.”
There was plenty of activities to keep kids entertained at the free-entry space, with inflatable footballers providing the perfect platform for some up-and-coming stars to practice their speccy technique.
Local food providers such as The Forge Pizzeria, Zed and Co and the trusted Rotary Club sausage sizzle ensured nobody went hungry during the fixture.
Mum Danielle Prollius, who was at the live site with her five children, said while she was anticipating a larger crowd, she was grateful the site was opened as a free alternative for families.
“We planned to come here all along because we thought if the council were going to put it on we’d come and support it,” Ms Prollius said.
“For us (with five children) to get tickets would have been difficult, but we can still feel the atmosphere and it’s free so it’s awesome.”
Meanwhile football music legend Mike Brady wasn’t deterred by the small crowd, delivering roaring renditions of classics ‘One Day in September’ and ‘Up There Cazaly’.
Mr Brady said despite the small showing, the entire city was abuzz due to its inaugural AFL fixture.
“I really love regional cities and I think they are the heart and soul of football and I’m really glad to see the AFL have sought to do this here.”