Mars Stadium is still not up to A-League standard

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Last weeks clash between Western United and the Western Sydney Wanderers saw the league become reacquainted with Mars Stadium. And it did not like what it saw.

It was difficult for the home fans to be on the end of a 1-0 loss last week, and Mars Stadium – in multiple ways – made it worse to watch, both in person and on TV.

Only a little over 2000 fans were at the game, but it had the capacity to host more than 11,000 people.

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However, it was much better than the 1500 people who trekked out for Western’s first game there a little less than a month ago against Macarthur FC. A low crowd for two A-League teams who are expected to be fighting it out towards the end of the season.

A poor crowd equals a poor atmosphere, and makes it even tougher viewing from those there in person, as well as on TV.

While United are trying to grow the game into other areas of their membership base, surely crowds like this do not provide return on investments.

Western are a team, full of quality players, capable of playing high scoring matches, and it is why they pull in better crowds around the rest of the country.

The stadium optics are seriously poor as well. From the grandstand, supporters feel so far away from the action.

It may be why the start of both halves featured slow and boring play, as the players did not have the aura of the crowd to kick them into gear.

While this is out of the control of those there, a stuff up did occur with a goal celebration at the game.

After Dylan Pierias put a shot slightly wide, a few in the crowd started a celebrating a goal. It was all the operators at Mars stadium needed to start playing music around the ground and command the big screen for a celebration on Western’s behalf.

While it was an innocent mistake, none of the Western players reacted as if it was a goal, and to make matters worse the celebrations could not be turned off for almost 30 seconds.

Not only was it tough for those at the ground, but for those watching on TV the lack of atmosphere was clear as well.

FOX’s only camera angle was from the grandstand side, so they barely captured any crowd action. Instead, the camera angle regularly featured the other side of the stadium, a standing zone, with no one standing in it.

Viewers at home would have been forgiven for thinking there were less than a couple of hundred people there.

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It seems only the photographers knew how to set up to capture what little crowd there was in the background.

Even Mark Rudan could not help but comment on the stadium and lighting during his post-match press conference.

“I won’t lie, the lighting here isn’t the best,” Rudan said.

“I struggled to see a lot of the last 30 minutes.”

Until many of these aspects can be fixed or new solutions found, it really is a waste of time to continue hosting A-League games at Mars Stadium.

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Seb Mottram
Seb Mottram
Sports nut studying Media comms and Marketing at Monash.

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