Subiaco Oval (pronounced /suːbiˈækoʊ/) (currently known under its naming rights as Patersons Stadium), or known colloquially as Subi, is the highest capacity sports stadium in Perth, Western Australia. It is located in the suburb of Subiaco, about three kilometres west of Perth's city centre.
Subiaco Oval is mainly used for Australian rules football matches, being the home ground for the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Football Club, the two Western Australian teams in the Australian Football League. The ground is also occasionally used for West Australian Football League matches. The ground is not exclusively used for Australian rules football though, having hosted National Soccer League grand finals, regular rugby union Test Matches (including games in the 2003 Rugby World Cup), International Rules and sometimes, rock concerts. It became the home ground for Perth's Super 14 rugby union team, the Western Force, in 2006.
The ground was first built in 1908, at which point it was known as Mueller Park. In 1969 a three-tier stand was constructed at the western end of the stadium, and in 1981 a two-tier stand on the members' wing was completed. A further redevelopment came in 1995 with the opening of the new two-tier "ANZ Stand"(Now NAB stand) opposite the members' wing. In 1997, light towers were installed at the ground. The last redevelopment, which converted the stadium into an all-seat venue, was completed in 1999 at a cost of A$35 million.
The three-tier stand is named the Orr-Simmons-Hill stand, in honour of three leading figures in the history of WAFL (then known as WANFL). This was proudly and prominently displayed on the exterior western face of the stand right up until the early 1990s, when it was replaced with the logo of a commercial sponsor. There is a small plaque remembering the original naming of the stand, mounted in one of the stair wells, and each tier has a sign on the back interior wall; for example, the first (ground) tier is the R.W. Hill Tier, second is the W.R. Orr Tier. (W.R. Orr was Secretary of the WANFL in 1932, R.W. Hill was Captain of West Perth in 1940 and 1941, and Secretary of the WANFL in 1968).
Subiaco Oval's capacity is 43,500 fully-seated. The ground is floodlit by four lighting towers. There was some initial concern vented surrounding the lack of aesthetic value of the proposed floodlights, but after their deployment these concerns quickly subdued although the local community still experiences a range of issues with events at the venue.
- Length: 175 m
- Width: 122 m
- Goals run east to west
In AFL circles, Subiaco Oval is the longest ground in the competition, with visiting interstate teams often having to adjust their playing style accordingly. This ground is sometimes referred to as "The House of Pain", with many visiting teams losing by lopsided scores. However in recent years this title has been lost, mainly due to the downfall of the Fremantle Football Club, however the West Coast Eagles have began to re-establish the title with a trend of 'clash-of-the-titans' performances as seen in the 2011 season.
Ground naming rights
In 2003, the retail telecommunications company Crazy John's controversially attempted to buy the naming rights to the ground, but the bid was denied by the local Subiaco council, which refused planning permission for advertising signs on the stadium's exterior. More recently, in May 2005, a non-commercial name change was being considered; the proposal to rename to 'ANZAC Field' was put forward by the WA Football Commission, but rejected by the Minister for Veterans Affairs, De-Anne Kelly, as Anzac is a federally protected word. In October 2010 the name of the ground was changed to Patersons Stadium. This sparked a lot of controversy, but the Western Australian Football Commission accepted it and said it would put money back into all levels of football.
As a music venue
Subiaco Oval has been the venue of major music concerts. These include:
- Elton John – 16 October 1971
- The Bee Gees – 4 February 1972
- Led Zeppelin – 16 February 1972
- Australian Made – 10 January 1987
- Billy Joel – 16 February 1991
- Paul McCartney – 5 March 1993
- Oasis – 3 February 1996
- Elton John & Billy Joel – 4 March 1998
- Rumba Festival – 3 December 2002
- The Eagles – 11 November 2004
- Rod Stewart & Bryan Adams – 26 February 2005
- Neil Diamond – 19 March 2005
- Pearl Jam – 25 November 2006
- Robbie Williams – 30 November & 1 December 2006
- Bon Jovi – 25 January 2008
- André Rieu – 22 November 2008
- AC/DC – 6 & 8 March 2010, with Wolfmother
- Bon Jovi – 8 December 2010
- U2 – 18 & 19 December 2010, with Jay-Z
Due to its large size and oval shape, the venue is not well suited to music concerts and is known to have very poor acoustics. It is often chosen for large concerts because there are no other venues of comparable capacity in Perth.
The oval is served by Subiaco and West Leederville train stations, which have been upgraded to handle more passengers. Special bus routes are run for football matches and other special events. In 2007(as well as 2008,2009 and 2010) tickets to AFL games included free travel on buses and trains for three hours before and after the game. This increased the proportion of football fans using public transport from 23.4% to 32.6%, with Dockers fans more likely to do so than Eagles fans. The completion of the southern suburbs railway is expected to increase patronage by replacing buses from south of the river with faster and larger trains.
Proposed demolition and rebuild
In 2005 the West Australian Football Commission released a $235 million plan (excluding transport infrastructure or land acquisitions) to increase the stadium to a 60,000 seat venue in a staged project. However, this proposal became a matter of significant debate in Western Australia. Although the demand for a larger stadium was undeniable (in 2005 the West Coast Eagles had 42,000 season ticket holders in a 43,500 seat stadium), the option of developing and expanding Subiaco in order to meet this higher demand was called into question. An alternative plan was tabled for the construction of a new stadium which would seat 70,000 and have retractable seating to cater for rectangular field codes, and appeared to be the lead candidate. Others argued that it may be more cost effective to re-develop Subiaco to 60,000 seats, and redevelop Perth Oval, a small rectangular stadium in Perth, to 35,000 seats to cater for rectangular field sports.
The Government of Western Australia had already commenced development of a Major Stadia review project in late 2003 which led to much interest in the future of major sporting venues in Western Australia. A Major Stadia Taskforce was appointed in early 2005 and released the Perth Major Stadium Interim report in June 2006. The taskforce delivered its final report in May 2007, which recommended the construction of a new 60,000 seat stadium at either Kitchener Park (which adjoins Subiaco Oval) or in East Perth, which would be suitable for Australian rules football, cricket and also rectangular-field sports such as Rugby. It recommended against the further development of Subiaco Oval, which would be demolished.
In July 2007 the Government of Western Australia announced its preference to build a new 60,000-seat stadium rather than re-develop Subiaco Oval. Early the following year, the government confirmed that Subiaco Oval would be demolished for the new Perth super-stadium to be built at the adjacent Kitchener Park dubbed Perth Stadium. The new 60,000 seat stadium would be built between 2011 and 2016, with the majority of the stadium being completed in 2014. Subiaco Oval was set to be demolished between 2014–2016 to allow the end of construction on Perth Stadium.
Following the election of a new State Liberal party government, Premier Colin Barnett, announced in February 2009 that, in light of the State's deteriorating finances, his government had scrapped plans for a new outdoor stadium. He stated that a new stadium, including an alternative proposal to redevelop Subiaco Oval, would not be considered for at least two years. However, in December 2009 he announced that he wanted to demolish Subiaco Oval and build a new stadium so Perth can host some soccer World Cup games in 2018 or 2022. He stated that this would involve a complete demolition of the old stadium and the building of an entirely new stadium on the site, and suggested this would likely cost well in excess of $450 million. However due to Qatar winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup rights this redevelopment is unlikely to proceed after the anoucement.