The WA government looks set to again bow to public pressure and reverse one of its decisions, this time over a cap on attendance at a new stadium for a Big Bash League cricket semi-final.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti announced on Monday an “interim decision” to cap the 60,000 seat-capacity Optus Stadium at 40,000 for the mid-week match due to construction delays on the Matagarup Footbridge likely to cause crippling pressure on public transport.
But after a public outcry, Ms Saffioti now says she will propose staggering arrivals to the stadium when she meets later on Wednesday with representations of the WACA, VenuesWest and Public Transport Authority.
“If we can find some solutions, in particular, the early arrival of a significant amount of people, we’ll see what we can do,” she told reporters.
Ms Saffioti hit back at comments by former Liberal premier Colin Barnett, who told The West Australian it was the minister’s job to “work out how to get people (to the stadium), not to stop people going to the game”.
“My job is to get people there on time,” she countered.
Ms Saffioti says the final decision will be made after January 27, when the Perth Scorchers will learn if they have scored a place in the BBL semi-final.
Opposition Sport and Recreation spokesman John McGrath says it would be a national embarrassment if there are empty seats wanting to be filled by fans when the Scorcher’s play.
He said with a women’s T20 cricket match happening beforehand arrivals will already be staggered into the venue.
The city’s public transport will be tested with a community day this weekend expected to attract 110,000 people, in hourly blocks of 15,000, to the stadium.
The public has been urged by Optus Stadium to stay away unless they have tickets to the event.
With the footbridge due to open in May, the cricket semi-final was the only game planned for a cap.
Ms Saffioti says one plan was for those with member tickets to arrive early.
“It really is a capacity issue … that peak hour clash. It’s all about whether we can spread the load on the network,” she said.