Sunday, 5 January 2014
In past years, many South Australians like us spent lazy summer days laying back on its grassy mounds or sitting in the shade of its elegant old grandstands watching cricket much like the early pioneers had done a century before. Apart from the occasional concert, cricket was just about all that occurred there, with Aussie Rules football departing to suburban grounds in the 1970’s. However, the grounds prime position within easy walking distance from the city centre had long been recognized as the ideal location for a much larger sporting arena similar to the famed MCG in Melbourne. So after years of public debate, negotiations between the various sporting codes and with government financial support, the deal was finally done. By 2014 Adelaide would have its own world-class stadium at a cost of $535 million and the old ground, as generations had known it, would be no more.
Wrigley Field in Chicago several years ago and had very much respected the way this bastion of baseball had been lovingly preserved, yet on the other hand we had also seen the ‘Birds Nest’ Olympic stadium in Beijing and noted what a significant landmark it had become. After all it wasn’t just the viewing of sport that had instigated such a major decision, but rather the broader ramifications of such a development upon the mindset of the city as a whole. Such a major economic, social and cultural landmark would certainly have huge implications for the future of Adelaide that were simply too great to ignore. While Jules largely remained unconvinced, preferring the elegance of the old ground, the new stadium was beginning to win me over. Although, I too am a traditionalist at heart, I acknowledge that modern sport is very much big business these days requiring state of the art facilities and while a brand new stadium may have been a more desirable option, it always remained an economical pipe dream. So in this case progress had defeated tradition and while the initial signs are positive and the stadium itself impressive, only time will tell whether it was indeed the right decision.