A crowd has started to gather at Optus Stadium as Perth prepares to get its 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 to about the location and construction of the stadium was made.
Outside the stadium this morning, 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.”
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 are set to officially open the gates to Optus Stadium just before 8am.
Mr McGowan was quick to thank his predecessor for the work that went into making the stadium possible.
The opening ceremony paves the way for a bumper day of activities throughout the stadium and precinct, including food trucks, local music and stands from sport teams, and it will end with a light show from 8.40pm.
Also opening today is the Chevron Parkland Kwondong playground, the BHP Boardwalk and amphitheatre and foot and beverage outlets.
Across the day there are eight sessions of 10,000 to 15,000 people, and each person’s ticket will specify a time.
People will be 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 last year within 90 minutes of becoming available, and include public transport to the venue.
Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray warned yesterday there will be a zero-tolerance approach to non-ticket holders as 110,000 people flock 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 vs Melbourne Storm, Rabbitohs vs Warriors
March 25 – AFL: Round 1 Eagles vs Swans
March 31 – AFL: Round 2: Fremantle vs Essendon