WE MUST keep doing better when it comes to the stadium experience and this week is a huge opportunity.
It is one thing to have an impressive boutique outdoor stadium, and a long-championed refit for indoor sports in the same precinct, but it is another to really get best use out of them.
There is so much infrastructure this city needs and wants – roads, faster trains and an investment to keep iconic, historic theatre gem Her Maj alive. These pleas are getting louder with a state election looming.
But what we do have is a high-quality, modern stadium, and an indoor showpiece on the way, that we need to get using more.
The stadium precinct is set to host a round of the Victorian Football League Women on Sunday afternoon. Later in the week is the sole home game for Ballarat’s marquee netball club Sovereigns in a Victorian Netball League fixture.
We need to be championing to see more impressive state league athletes in our sporting houses.
It is fantastic to get two AFL premiership season games this year at Mars Stadium. But two games is hardly enough to justify such a stadium investment. Mars has tenants, and this is important, but to attract more big events – big local economy boosters – we need to keep reinforcing the fact we have both the appetite and ability for this.
If Wollongong can pull off an 20,000-strong stadium spectacular for Sir Elton John, surely Ballarat can start aiming Rocket Man big.
First, we need to show up and make it count every time.
AFLW, set to expand ranks for a third season, continues to fast-capture attention and excitement in the Australian sporting landscape. The AFL might be hesitant to expand too fast, so we need to keep putting our hand up to remind them Ballarat would be perfect for the women’s game. Our boutique arena is far more modern than most AFLW home grounds, including Western Bulldogs’ Whitten Oval, but not too big that developing crowds would get swallowed.
Here is our chance.
Western Bulldogs are hosting a VFLW game on Mars this weekend and there is so much to cheer about in this women’s game.
The Bulldogs might be our team, but visiting rival Geelong has a stronger Ballarat flavour and proof of how our booming female ranks in AFL Goldfields are starting to make a mark.
Richelle “Rocky” Cranston and former Carlton player Jordan Ivey, recovering from a knee reconstruction, will not play this weekend but are already named in Geelong’s first AFLW squad.
The leading VFLW outfit also features top Goldfields products: star youth girl-turned women’s runner-up best and fairest Amy McDonald; Goldfields league leading goal kicker Georgia Watson; premiership player Madisen McGuire; Redan captain and best on ground in the 2017 grand final Maighan Fogas; and, Bacchus Marsh netballer and the region’s female football manager Krista Woodroffe.
These women want to show us the step up, just like the Sovereign will on Friday night. We need to get out there in support, take a look, because who knows what else might follow.
Do you want to make your voice heard? Here is your chance.