The reveal of the new Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct design in July 2014 was a major milestone in the project’s history and a testament to the long-term aspiration of creating a “fans first” stadium.
The 60,000-seat (with the potential to increase to 70,000) multi-purpose venue will be capable of hosting Australian Rules Football, rugby union and league, football (soccer), and cricket, as well as playing a fundamental role in attracting major world-class entertainment events to Perth upon opening in early 2018.
From as early as 2007, the State Government of Western Australia recognized the need for an increased capacity multi-purpose venue in Perth, reflecting the unprecedented population growth of this capital city.
The stadium was required to be flexible, providing the opportunity for all Western Australians and visitors alike to enjoy a wide range of events at the new venue plus facilities in the Sports Precinct on non-event days.
The addition of the new Perth Stadium compliments the now impressive portfolio of premier sport and entertainment infrastructure in Western Australia, which under the stewardship of VenuesWest, ensures that the needs of high performance athletes and the community are catered for.
Putting the “Fans First”
Throughout the planning phase, consultation with key stakeholders was undertaken to determine the key aspirations for the project. The stakeholders recognized that the stadium should reflect Perth’s unique culture and history, harness the spectacular location in the design, and develop a connection to the Swan River.
Above all, the planning and design of the stadium and Sports Precinct has put the needs of the fans first with the priority being to deliver an exceptional event atmosphere and experiences that can only be attained by being at the venue.
The development of the Sports Fans User Group in early 2013 was a key activity that provided significant assistance in the planning phase. Thirty Western Australian fans, covering a wide range of demographics and sports, were selected from a field of 450 applicants. They have been providing ongoing advice relating to the fan experience during events. This includes the public transport solution as well as their vision for the parkland Sports Precinct that will surround the stadium. These insights were used to help inform the Project Brief from which the stadium and Sports Precinct design was derived.
An additional eight User Groups were established with representatives from all the major sporting codes, emergency services, media, stadium operations, and events personnel, plus individuals requiring higher levels of accessibility. Each User Group has provided advice on specific operational requirements for the stadium and Sports Precinct.
All User Groups have been particularly active during the stadium’s eight month Design Development Phase. This has involved refining the design while maintaining the focus of delivering a stadium and Sports Precinct that provides an outstanding fan experience.
A Nod to Aboriginal Heritage
While the stadium has a “fans first” focus, it is also important to acknowledge Aboriginal heritage and culture within the design of the stadium and Sports Precinct.
The Noongar people of Perth have a deep connection with the Burswood Peninsula and Swan River. Throughout the 1800s, the Noongar people occupied this area and exploited the estuaries and freshwater lakes. It is also a site of cultural significance where neighboring tribes would gather and ceremonies would take place.
From the early inception of the project, the new Perth Stadium Project Team has worked closely with the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) that has facilitated access to the Whadjuk Working Party, which includes traditional owners of the boodja (the Aboriginal name for the land where the new Perth Stadium is being established).
The Whadjuk Working Party has been consulted since the early planning phase of the project to ensure recognition of Noongar men and women’s cultural connections to the land.
There is continued consultation throughout the design development phase to ensure Aboriginal culture is acknowledged within the planned public art throughout the stadium and Sports Precinct and within landscaping and architectural features.
Pushing the Boundaries for Stadium Design
Perth Stadium will offer an unrivalled spectator experience including the widest range of seating and hospitality options of any stadia in Australia. Seats will be a minimum of 50-cm wide, include a cup holder, will be as close to the on-field action as possible, and will have outstanding sightlines to the field of play, regardless of the event.
The stadium’s design ensures it will be one of the best in Australia for fans with a disability and/or special access requirements. Features include:
- Wheelchair positions on all levels with flexible seats for carers and guests, accommodating groups of all sizes;
- The incorporation of 21 accessible toilets across all five levels of the stadium, plus two changing places toilets—the first stadium in Australia to have more than one;
- Nine times more permanent ACROD bays than required (2013 National Construction code); and,
- 360-degree circulation on general admission levels.
On the technology front, there will be two, 240-square-meter giant video screens—some of the largest in Australia. More than 1,000 TV screens will be located throughout the interior of the stadium so fans don’t miss any of the action, and they will also have 4G Wi-Fi access across the stadium and Sports Precinct. A flexible approach to the design and delayed procurement of stadium technology will ensure the latest technological advances are utilized. A similar approach has been employed for the design of the stadium’s catering facilities, whereby the design of these spaces will only be finalized once the stadium operator is appointed in 2016. This process will permit crucial end-user input into the design and operation of the catering facilities, ensuring that a fans first outcome can be achieved from a food and beverage point of view.
The stadium’s unique bronze façade pays homage to Western Australia’s unique geology and ensures the structure will be instantly recognizable. State-of-the-art LED lighting will also be imbedded within the façade providing the opportunity to digitally highlight home team colors at night.
Food and Beverage Options
The stadium also heralds the widest range of hospitality options of any stadia in Australia. There will be more than 70 food and beverage outlets within the stadium plus 13 different seating options from general admission through to top end premium products, including Australia’s first purpose-designed Field Club and Coaches Club.
The Field Club offers a unique fan experience at pitch level. With the ability to watch the home team warm up and view the post- match media conference, this will truly be a fantastic experience for any dedicated fan.
The Coaches Club is located on the northern wing of level three, flanked by the two home team coaches’ boxes, and will provide a unique experience for 48 fanatical fans. Upon entry, patrons will hand over their mobile phones to staff and receive a pre-match briefing by the home team coach. Depending on the willingness of the coach, sound can be projected from the coaches’ box into the coaches club, giving patrons an unrivalled insight into the game. There are also dedicated kitchen and bar facilities in the Coaches Club ensuring this space can be utilized on non-event days for smaller functions.
The Sky View Terrace is a space located at the western end of the stadium at level five underneath one of the giant screens. It is a functional space where patrons can stand to watch the game or take in the views back to the city. This stadium section can accommodate 300 fans, and it is envisaged that this space could be used all year round, not just on event days. The Sky View Terrace has the flexibility for branding and sponsorship plus a range of different seating and function arrangements.
A multi-purpose Function Centre is located within the stadium on level three and is designed to enable views across the Swan River to the Perth central business district. A total of three function rooms can operate independently or combined, accommodating either 500 people in each, 1,000 patrons across two rooms, or a total of 1,500 people across one connected space.
An a la carte and a buffet restaurant are located just outside the stadium and adjacent to the western entrance to provide a destination for patrons both pre- and post-game plus on non-event days.
The a la carte restaurant is located on the Waterfront Terrace with uninterrupted views of the Swan River and city skyline and has a 150 person capacity. The buffet restaurant will seat up to 500 people, and will also provide uninterrupted views over the Swan River.
The Sports Precinct—Distinctive, Dynamic, Year-Round Use
A key aspiration for the new Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct is that it will become a major architectural landmark for Perth with a distinctive and dynamic presence. The design will reflect Perth’s unique culture, utilize the nearby Swan River, and acknowledge the state’s rich sporting and Aboriginal heritage.
The stadium will be integrated within an activated Sports Precinct, providing opportunities for the development of cafes, alfresco dining, and other infrastructure that can be utilized on both event and non-event days.
Divided into three distinct zones, the Sports Precinct includes high-quality parklands and a variety of sports, entertainment, and recreation facilities, which form an important part of the precinct design.
The Waterfront Zone is located along the Swan River on the western side of the Sports Precinct and includes children’s play areas, barbecue areas, picnic facilities, and a network of bike paths—all for year-round use. The zone also houses an amphitheater, which can be used for concerts, entertainment events, and an outdoor movie theatre in the summer months.
A key area of the Waterfront Zone will be the river-fed lake and parkland. The 30,000-square-meter space will be rehabilitated as part of the project, combining grassed areas with seating and shelters within a native woodland environment.
The central zone, the Parkland Zone, encompasses the stadium itself, the Community Oval, and the redeveloped Golf Clubhouse, which was used for the former Burswood golf course as a club house and function center prior to the development of this project.
The redeveloped Golf Clubhouse will provide a range of eating and drinking options for patrons on event and non-event days. The venue will also take in views of the Swan River and Perth central business district.
The Community Oval, located to the north of the stadium, retains large expanses of lawn with new trees. The open space will be available for public use on non-event days as well as providing event day parking for approximately 700 cars.
The Urban Zone is located in the eastern section of the Sport Precinct next to the stadium’s dedicated rail station, which will be the main public transport gateway, moving approximately 28,000 people on major event days.
A unique feature of the Sports Precinct is the Community Arbour. The Community Arbour will connect each zone together. Inspired by the Indigenous Dreamtime story, the Community Arbour will incorporate seating, flora, lighting, and public art.
Public art will be incorporated across the stadium and Sports Precinct to enhance the visual appeal of the area, celebrating West Australian sporting and cultural achievements while assisting with orientation and navigation for visitors.
Reducing the Impact
The project also incorporates a range of sustainable materials and energy reduction initiatives in its design. The lightweight fabric used for the stadium’s roof not only covers 85 percent of seats, the most of any “open” stadium in Australia, but also naturally ventilates the stadium—reducing energy usage and collecting and storing rainwater for reuse in toilets.
The retention of existing vegetation and the planting of water wise local flora will provide wind and shade protection and has been inspired by the Indigenous six seasons.
The State Government’s public transport strategy will also reduce the impact on the environment with rail, bus, and pedestrian solutions able to safely and efficiently transport 83 percent of a capacity crowd (60,000) within one hour of an event finishing.
The additional 600 bike racks and path network around the Sports Precinct will provide flexibility and encourage year-round use of the precinct.
Construction of the stadium and surrounding Sports Precinct commenced in December 2014. Construction will take around three years, with completion scheduled for the end of 2017 to allow a transition phase ahead of opening in time for the start of the 2018 AFL season.
Off site, the Design Development phase is nearing completion. This phase has seen the Project Team re-engage with the User Groups and key stakeholders to refine the design.
As an example, the Sports Fans User Group has provided feedback to the architects on the key elements that they will experience on event and non-event days. Examples include navigation and movement throughout the stadium and Sports Precinct, seating, catering facilities and integration of public transport. The Sports Fans User Group has also been vocal in determining service levels from the future stadium operator to ensure the “fans first” philosophy is achieved.
The Governance Agency for the project, VenuesWest, has also commenced the procurement process to secure the stadium operator, the day-to-day manager of the stadium. The successful stadium operator will secure future events at the stadium and within the Sports Precinct, as well as manage catering, cleaning, waste management, security, traffic management, and ticketing.
It is expected that the operator will be appointed by early 2016. The operator will work closely with sporting organizations, other end users of the stadium, and state government agencies, including VenuesWest and Tourism WA to secure a year-round program of activities.
Across the next three years, several different pieces of transport infrastructure will be delivered. They include a dedicated rail station and bus station adjacent to the stadium, plus a new pedestrian bridge that will link the Burswood Peninsula to East Perth and a shuttle bus service that will provide access to the thousands of car bays across the CBD. There will also be road modifications to Victoria Park Drive, including an underpass for rail patrons. Additional transport and access options includes pedestrian and bicycle paths throughout the precinct that will be ready for the stadium opening in 2018. FM