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The much loved Melbourne radio host and Hun columnist Steve Price has been convinced – Colonial Stadium is a good thing. Crikey’s man in the stands dodging bits falling from the roof tracks his conversion.

THEN (Sunday Program, 27/8/2000):

When this place was first built we were told that if it was a sell out the games will be moved to the MCG. That’s now never going to happen, you know. The roof wouldn’t shut, the grass wouldn’t grow, the whole thing was a debacle and people got very, very angry and people said we didn’t ever want to move from Waverley and we were quite happy out there.

NOW (Herald Sun, 31/7/2001):

Let’s hope all the knockers of Colonial Stadium have finally woken up that we now have the best sports stadium in Australia, if not the world.

Big statement, maybe. But after the thrilling ”every dog has its day” clash last Friday night, you can’t argue.

There were 43,595 people there, seated in total comfort. Outside, cold biting winds and drizzle. Inside, toasty warm and an electric atmosphere.

The game was able to be played as it was meant to be. Transfer the same game to the MCG on the same night and there simply would be no comparison.

THEN:

We could drive into the car park with our kids and sit down and pay $14, you’re now telling me I have to pay a booking fee, I’ve got to book my ticket through Ticketek and you’re trying to sell me a glass of Chardonnay and a veal parmigiana at the football, I don’t want that.

NOW:

But the Colonial attraction goes a lot further than just the state-of-the-art sliding roof. Colonial quite simply outstrips the MCG in every area except size and history… the Medallion Club was full. Either side of the bar, dining rooms served edible food. In the bar, footy fans sipped from a range of beers and wine more usually associated with a five-star restaurant.

Outside, the non-Medallion Club members had access to a wide variety of food outlets with minimum queues and quality produce.

(Strike me, the last thing I associate Colonial Stadium with is “minimum queues” but Pricey’s “quality produce” line is a bit rich. They might do a good veal parmagiana in the Medallion Club Steve, but I tell you the so-called ‘chicken and chips’ I had up on the top deck Saturday night turned out to be four flavourless extruded nuggets at about the same price you could buy a whole roast chook elsewhere.)

THEN:

[Reporter]: For the debacle you’ve mentioned on Colonial Stadium where does the buck stop?

[Price]: I think it has to stop with Wayne Jackson. I mean he’s the Chief Executive of the AFL Commission.

[Reporter]: Should Wayne Jackson still have his job?

[Price]: Given the performance this year of the Commission, probably not.

NOW:

So for all those knockers, lift your eyes and give the new place a fair go. Just as it’s a great pleasure not to have to drive out to wet, windy, cold and badly-designed Waverley ever again, it’s now a real buzz when you know you are playing at Colonial on a wintry night.

We should all congratulate the AFL for getting involved there.

Hmmm.

Steve Price heaped lavish praise on Colonial in his new column in the Herald Sun. He might tell “all those knockers” out there to “give the new place a fair go”, but neglects to recall that he was one of the stadium’s biggest knockers himself last year.

Nor was it mentioned that News Ltd., publishers of the Herald Sun, have a financial interest in the troubled stadium, which, rather than returning the $42 million profit predicted in the prospectus, returned a loss of $25 million last year and $40 million for 2000-2001. Presumably Murdoch and News Ltd. would be more keen to see the place talked up than down.

Ironically, the “Sunday” program story where Price bagged Colonial Stadium and the AFL was an expose of the myriad conflicts of interest in the AFL.

Now Pricey might have every right to change his opinion about Colonial – being schmoozed in the cushy surrounds of the Medallion Club and seeing his team win in a thriller by two points no doubt helped – but to be fair, I think he could have made the following disclosures:

“So for all those knockers *- I WAS ONE MYSELF LAST YEAR – * lift your eyes and give the new place a fair go.”

“Colonial might still not be generating profits for its investors *INCLUDING THE OWNERS OF THIS NEWSPAPER* and the tenant clubs might have issues with its boss, Ian Collins, but for us footy fans it’s a huge bonus.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-In-Chief of Crikey

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