Optus Stadium Open Day: Thousands of People Attend Community Event at New Venue

Thousands of people have gathered at Optus Stadium as Perth gets a first look at the city’s newest sporting venue.

By day’s end, more than 100,000 people should have rolled through the gates of the state-of-the-art Burswood facility.

By 7.30am, hundreds were waiting their chance to get in — and some took the opportunity to thank former premier Colin Barnett for his contribution to the development.

Mr Barnett, who has now exited Parliament, was at the helm of the State when the sometimes-controversial decision about the location and construction of the stadium was made.

Outside the stadium, Daglish father Richard O’Connell described the venue as fantastic.

“It’s a great spectacle for WA and I’m really proud that this reflects WA and was paid for by WA taxpayers,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see the Eagles play here and win.”

Premier Mark McGowan was quick to address a pressing issue — the looming crowd cap for a Perth Scorchers semi-final — and joked that the stadium should get an AFL grand final to compensate for WA’s GST woes.

Mr McGowan acknowledged the concept of a cap was “not ideal”.

“The least the rest of the country could do for WA, considering the GST they take from us, is to give us the grand final each and every year for nothing as a permanent fixture,” he said.

“It would be a small compensation, but it would be something.

“We’re working through the issues [of the crowd cap], we know there are transport issues.

“We’re working with Venues Live and the WACA who are going to bring us options in the coming week. We’re very confident we’ll have answers to those questions this week.”

The Premier, like the rest of the punters, even seemed to catch public transport home from the event.

Long-time Docker Shaun McManus, who opened proceedings, said the stadium was the best in the country. And Sports Minister Mick Murray agreed: “I had some time off over Christmas and visited Adelaide Oval … South Australians told me it was the best stadium of its size in the world. I was quick to remind them that our stadium was coming, and ours is better.”

Premier Mark McGowan and Mr Barnett officially opened the gates to the stadium at 8am.

Mr McGowan was quick to thank his predecessor for the work that went into making the stadium possible.

In one of the more unusual scenes, Mr McGowan was asked for autographs, including signing one young Eagles fan’s guernsey.

Colin Barnett talks to punters outside Optus Stadium.

Sydney visitor Akshay Malde was among those intrigued to see the new venue.

“It’s a lot smaller inside than it looks outside; not that that’s a bad thing,” he said.

“It’ll be interesting to see how it goes on a game day; that will be the real test. I hope it’s a smart stadium where you can order your food on an app and things like that. I used to live in Germany and that always impressed me.

Dressed in an Eagles shirt and hat, Michael Molan from Girrawheen was in awe.

“It’s unreal. The sheer size of it and the vantage points all around the ground,” he said.

“I’m a long-time Eagles supporter and this is better than what I imagined. I watched the doco on it and read all the papers about it but to be here is just unreal.

“It wasn’t until I was standing outside and could see people going up the escalators that I realised the enormity of it.”

The new facility drew largely rave reviews, although the PR about not having a bad seat in the house was queried by some.

WA might have a rival for the Quokka selfie as a photographic choice, with the stadium selfie already proving popular on Sunday morning.

The opening ceremony paved the way for a bumper day of activities throughout the stadium and precinct, including food trucks, local music and stands from sport teams, and ending with a light show from 8.40pm.

Also opening today were the Chevron Parkland Kwondong playground, the BHP Boardwalk and amphitheatre and food and beverage outlets.

Across the day there were eight sessions of 10,000 to 15,000 people going through the gates.

People were able to explore the top and bottom levels of the stadium throughout the day and find their seats.

Tickets to the community open day, which sold out in November within 90 minutes of becoming available, included public transport to the venue.

Mr Murray had warned there would be a zero-tolerance approach to non-ticket holders as 110,000 people flocked to the venue.

Mr Murray said anyone attempting to enter the venue without a ticket would be turned away.

He urged the public not to pay scalpers, who have been trying to sell the free tickets for up to $25 after the public allocation was exhausted.

“If people can’t get in and don’t have a ticket, there is no need to go and pay some of the people trying to sell them for a profit,” Mr Murray said. “Just wait and come to the AFL women’s game (in February).

“With the amount of people that will be here, being able to get them through will be a very big logistical task and if people try to push in, that will only make it worse.”

The opening marks the end of a four-year construction period and more than a decade of discussion and planning for the new multi-purpose stadium, the first of its kind built in Australia for more than a decade.

It also marks the start of a bumper two months of entertainment at the venue, including concerts, cricket and the first AFL games.

January 28 – CRICKET: One Day International between Australia and England

February 8 – AWARDS: The West Australian RAC Sports Star of the Year

February 10 – AFL W: Match between Fremantle and Collingwood

March 2-3 – CONCERT: Ed Sheeran

March 10 – NRL: Double header Bulldogs v Melbourne Storm, Rabbitohs v Warriors

March 25 – AFL: Round 1 Eagles v Swans

March 31 – AFL: Round 2: Fremantle v Essendon

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