Perth Stadium build wired for wonder

By Paul Hemsley

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett is busting to make the new Perth Stadium a giant new technology hub for sports fans to make gaming events even more immersive – even when they are forced to leave their seats to answer the call of nature.

After more than a century of sports fans being forced to run the gauntlet of missing a pivotal moment in the match while queuing for the loo, the West’s Premier has revealed punters will now have sports commentary plumbed into toilet facilities to keep them appraised of the action.

The move is just one of a swag of technological breakthroughs the Barnett government is pushing for the massive new facility as part of its sporting sell to the community.

The state government began work on the stadium in June 2013 on the Burswood Peninsula, which became a source of controversy in July 2013 as the City of Victoria Park and the City of South Perth slammed the City of Perth for planning to annex the Peninsula that also contains the James Packer-owned Crown Casino.

The City of Perth’s expansion across the Swan River to absorb these lucrative locations within these other council areas was a run-up to Mr Barnett’s wider plan to overhaul the local government boundaries in the Perth metropolitan area that meant culling the total number of council areas from 30 to 14.

But the local government politics has taken a backseat to the state government’s kick off of its Request for Proposals (RFP) document released to three consortia vying to build the new Perth Stadium, which includes a wide range of technological feasts to keep spectators entertained and informed at all times during a game or event.

The 2,000 page document sent to the three consortia contains specifications of technology including two super screens at least 20 by 12 metres and about 1,000 television screens in the event that patrons have to leave their seats, as well as a Wi-Fi connection, mobile phone quiet zones and at least 10 mobile phone recharging stations.

Mr Barnett said the RFP provides a range of minimum standards the design must meet and outlines the technical, operational and commercial requirements to design, build, partially finance and maintain the stadium and its surrounding sports precinct.

“Specifications focus on providing a spectacular fan experience with seating as close to the field of play as possible, unobstructed quality views – regardless of the seating configuration – plus comfortable and well-proportioned seats,” Mr Barnett said.

These are technological features that have been submitted to the consortia to consider in their planning for the construction of the stadium, but the RFP also pushes the consortia to ensure that they consider the functionality of the stadium’s technology in 10 to 20 years as technology quickly changes.

The Department of Sport and Recreation’s Perth Stadium project manager Henrietta Farrell said that the right capabilities and infrastructure need to be put into place for the stadium to be able to accommodate the changes in technology.

This means that the Perth Stadium must be able to accommodate new technologies that could potentially make the stadium closer to the living room experience like the implementation of in-seat food and drink ordering at the Melbourne Etihad Stadium.

Ms Farrell said the government has not told the consortia their response should include technology that allows people to order drinks or food from the comfort of their seats.

“That’s something that they might propose back to us or consider as part of their evaluation,” Ms Farrell said.

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