Perth crowd ‘blown away’ as Optus Stadium opens to the public

Premier Mark McGowan and his daughter soak up the opening of the new Optus Stadium. Photo: Getty
Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes
Premier Mark McGowan and Sports and Recreation Minister Mick Murray. Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes
Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes
Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes
Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes
Premier Mark McGowan and his daughter soak up the opening of the new Optus Stadium. Photo: Getty Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes Premier Mark McGowan and Sports and Recreation Minister Mick Murray. Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes Photo: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrnes

PERTH was promised its new stadium would be “world class” and when the $1.6 billion venue was finally opened to the public many were indeed in awe of its size and amenities.

“I was blown away. It’s absolutely fantastic,” Dockers fan Geraldine Bruce told AAP.

“We’ve got seats on level 5. It’s got a great view, nothing interrupting it, and the amenities are fantastic. I can’t say anything against it.”

MC and former AFL player Shaun McManus, who has played at most large stadiums in Australia, said it was by far the best.

About 110,000 free tickets were snapped up for the community open day at Optus Stadium, which has two 340 square metre super screens and the largest sports lighting system in the world, with 891 floodlights.

Nika Strydom enjoyed the view from the back row and said she loved the spectacle of the light show.

“I think at night it will look amazing.”

Construction on the 60,000-seat stadium began in December 2014 but there have been several controversies including its name, location, cost, lack of parking and even the beer.

The lingering problem remains the Matagarup Bridge, connecting East Perth to the venue, which is not expected to be ready until May.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said 80 to 90 per cent of people arrived on Sunday via public transport, but the day showed clearer signage was needed for future events.

Last week, there was another squabble regarding a proposed cap of 40,000 people for a likely Big Bash League cricket semi-final due to weekday peak-hour traffic putting stress on public transport.

Premier Mark McGowan conceded a cap was not ideal, but said the government was working through the public transport issues.

“We’re working with the WACA and Venues Live, who are bringing to us options early in the coming week.”

The premier said the goal was to avoid having a bottleneck of people.

Mr McGowan even joked about the stadium hosting the AFL grand final.

“It’s the least that the rest of the country could do for Western Australia, considering the GST they take from our state, that they hand the AFL grand final to our state each and every year for nothing,” he said.

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

Asked about the AFL adopting a system like the US Super Bowl, which rotates venues, the premier quipped: “Well, we might get that here as well.”

He added that he might mention the idea to President Donald Trump when he visits Washington.

Mr McGowan also acknowledged previous Labor premiers Geoff Gallop and Alan Carpenter, and former Liberal premier Colin Barnett for their efforts, inviting his predecessor to join in the ribbon cutting.

“It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears by a lot of people,” he said.

Events already planned at the stadium include a one day international cricket match, the AFL Women’s game and two Ed Sheeran concerts.