Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

if i had a life, i'd be anywhere else right now. but i have no life, and thus i am here, typing this little bit about stadium australia.

it's born out of the essay 'stadium australia: the opera house of the west?' by charles pickett. pickett is a curator at the powerhouse museum, and quite clearly, he's one of those people located in on the non-western suburbs side of sydney who like to make bold statements about the western suburbs, as the one which in is his title is. i should probably come up with a term for people like pickett, such as idiot, just plain stupid, or possessed of a sort of xenophobia that is located within sydney. but the last one is probably incorrect. i like idiot.

stadium australia, to begin with, isn't really located in the western suburbs. it's on the outer of the western city, right before the tiled roofs of the urban experience start to spread out. it's main failure, in debate at least, is as pickett identifies:

'in the case of stadium australia, this debate has been refracted by the cultural distance between sydney's intelligentsia and professional sport. much of the debate about olympic architecture is conducted by people with little experience of these types of buildings and the events they host--and sometimes a fundamental mistrust of their purpose.'

which is, at least in my opinion, a rather arrogant point of view. of course those sports writers and such can't comment on the stadium properly. but he is right that it does identify a divide, but it isn't some cultural divide, just one of organisations with two different ideological discourses. sports writers are not going to say no to a new, giant stadium; academics are always going to critique such a thing, and say that it does not serve the entire community.

pickett identifies this briefly. he states that, in the case of rugby league, the stadium will never fill to capacity due to the fact that 'stadium australia is only useful for occasional large events, and hence will struggle for profitability. there are simply too many stadiums in sydney appropriate for sub-30,000 crowds.' it's unclear in the essay if pickett himself believes this to be true, or simply as a years why the shares have not floated to a grand total.

ignoring the fact that i know nothing about shares, investing in the private corporation that is responsible for stadium australia, does not seem to be a wise investment of my money. but this is because i know nothing about shares, and maybe the 'average punters' of pickett's world do not either.

however, the biggest thing that pickett has missed, is the tribal like focus of sport following. rugby league, for example, is a sport situated around sydney, but its support is given to the teams of a certain area, and while ruby league is the most popular of sports, these supporters do not gather in one place, for one team, unless it is at the grand final or something else of which is utterly devoid of interest to me. (i felt the need to defend myself as i write this. sad, but true. i've no interest in sport at all.) for the rest of the season, supporters of rugby spread out across the landscape of sydney, meeting to support their teams in the areas they will find themselves. and, often, support will be strongest for the team that is local and playing in the local stadium. think of it is a smaller version of patriotism. use south sydney as a disgusting example of this patriotism, where more people got up and marched for a football team, than for cancer.

stadium australia, set where it is on the edge of the suburbs, has no central support mechanism. no tribe. to arrive at it, is to step off a train station and into the steel and glass of an 'event' place, with nothing but silence, bricks, roads, and parking lots around it. it's a sterile little suburb set in the middle of sydney. canberra in australia.

this is why stadium australia is not the new cultural icon for 'the western suburbs' (because no one in the west knows where the opera house is and feels the need to go there; in the east, i hear there is a beach they like, while to the south some diner, and in the north, i hear something about an airport). the support mechanisms of sport are not built to one area, though perhaps pickett is right in saying that it is kept from academia--but then so much is--but this isolation is not for the rest of the country, for which sport spreads out across, in this case, the entire state.

anyhow, i think that is enough of that. soon, why salman rushdie's satanic verses's is about being a foreigner...

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