The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – Media Reporting Of The Stadium Development At Parramatta – Bias?

Back in early 2016, Chris Losco and I were privileged to be part of the Focus Group which discussed design inclusions for the new Parramatta Stadium. Chaired by representatives of consultancy group PWC, the meetings debated and proposed features that we considered to be important for spectators in a stadium that would have a 50 year lifespan.

Our reports can be found here and here.

The 24 person group was organised to comprise of six fan representatives from each of the main user groups – Parramatta Eels, Wanderers, Rugby Union, other NRL and Community groups. The striking feature of the meetings was the extraordinary number of people who arrived wearing Wanderers merchandise. That said, after some hiccups around the proclamations of “major tenant” status from Wanderers reps, and some unwarranted words on their social media, the group was united on many design features. There was little point in being divided when it was essentially a common cause.

Fast forward to the construction process, and the positive news and media reporting has commenced. Given the dramas regarding the NSW Government Stadia policy and funding models, such positivity is understandable. The city of Parramatta and its surrounds will benefit from having a true 21st century stadium.

Yet I still do have some concerns.

Now, there is an undeniable fact. This magnificent stadium would not be under construction were it not a multi-purpose venue. Without question, the two principal users will be the Eels and the Wanderers, and it will also be used for other rectangular field sports and special events. Yet, to feature promotions focusing on only one stakeholder creates the illusion of the Stadium catering specifically for that group.

As an example, this Wanderers badged video is currently receiving a major media push:

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/video/id-5348771529001-5550100548001/WSW-stadium-time-lapse

The government has produced videos which feature the two major codes which will be using the venue. Though this accompanying video doesn’t feature the timeline, surely non-affiliated media content like this is preferable?

However, the mainstream media providers are instead pushing the Wanderers badged video. This may seem innocuous, but does it allude to favouritism?

The promotion of one group through the media only serves to create a divide between the two major tenants of the new stadium. It’s unnecessary, especially with the fan crossover that exists between the two clubs.

Ultimately, there may also be concerns with the naming of the new Stadium. Lets hope that outside of any sponsorship branding, we end up with a neutral name rather than one which simply appears to be named in honour of one club.

Ideally, I’d hope that the NSW Government would take the lead in the promotion/marketing of the new stadium. After all, its being built by them and more than one organisation will be the beneficiary.

Eels forever

Sixties

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Chris

This is a serious issue and thanks for writing about it. The wanderers appear to be investing in a ‘takeover’ of the stadium. I think there is cause for concern. Hopefully our representatives are pushing our case hard with government. I am sure they are.

We could fast track this whole process and call the new stadium ‘Parramatta Eels Rugby League Club Stadium’. That would be fine.

Chief

I don’t think there is any issue at all and we should just be happy with what’s happening.
The logo issue is negligible, and like most stadia there’ll be a neutral sponsor’s name.

But in saying this, Parramatta has the greater history and when it comes to naming stands, The Tony Popovic stand would obviously offend 99% of the city’s population.

Achilles' Eel

Why not call it the Darug (there are variations to its spelling) Stadium, or the Burramattagal Stadium in recognition of the original inhabitants of the area? A compromise can be struck between an indigenous and sponsors name as well.

Anonymous

Great thinking mate! This could be wonderful acknowledgement of the rich indigenous history of the district.

Parra Pete, Hay

Call it what they like…It will always be CUMBERLAND OVAL to me….

Mitchy

Agreed Pete. To me it should only be Cumberland Oval and have little political names to appease soccer / league and even Aboriginal groups.
If it’s a stadium and in parra then it’s obvious isn’t it..??
It’s been league since 47 or before as far as I know and we only hope the parra league side of things get heavily involved

Kevin

Unfortunately the Eels fans are notoriously fickle when it comes to match attendance. Unless we are winning we struggle to get a crowd above 10000. Our successful year this year still saw a Thursday night crowd under 9000. On purely an attendance record we don’t deserve any better. GET TO THE GAMES PEOPLE!

JJ

If the Stadium doesn’t have a naming rights sponsor by the time it’s ready I’d be confident that it will have a neutral name IE: maybe something along an indigenous theme for the name.
The now Dept of Communities who will run both ANZ & the new stadium will have a naming rights sponsor signed up before opening. You may even find they have employed such a person to do that for all their venues that they manage and this new stadium is a big ticket item in securing a naming rights sponsor

Hamsammich

I think we should take inspiration from some of the other iconic venues across this great city. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and just go with Parramatta Rectangular stadium. I’m sure there’ll be a naming sponsor before the stadium is complete.

Joe Briffa

I am with you Ham what is so wrong in calling it Parramatta Stadium and if and when they have naming sponsor so be it.Surely no one would object to that, and sometimes I even find myself calling it Cumberland Oval

Gazzamatta

So far as naming the Stadium, Id suggest a nuteral and signifigant former sportsperson. It probably dosent lend itself to a rectangular stadium but what about the recently passed Merrylands Girl who won Olympic gold in the 100, 200 and 400 meters being the only woman to ever achieve this rare feat.
Yes, I propose ” The Betty Cuthbert Stadium”.

Gazzamatta

Born in Merrylands grew up in Ermington. Both close enough to Parramatta to be called ours. RIP Golden Girl.

Walpy

Love Betty Cuthbert – but not for a rectangular stadium. Something to do with athletics or in her home town would be far more appropriate I think.

John Eel

I travel down from the Central Coast to watch the games. For me it is considerably quicker to get to ANZ then Parramatta Stadium. Having said that I can’t wait to get back to Parramatta Stadium Our crowds of 12 to 15 thousand at ANZ are dissapointing to say the least. It does nothing for the atmosphere of the game. I talk to all the regulars that sit in the vicinity each week and they are like me, can’t wait to get back. I am also convinced on the back of the Eels getting back home, a new state of… Read more »

Chris

I agree. I reckon a new stadium, the associated precinct and the upgrade leagues club will see 20k average attendance at a minimum.

John Eel

History will repeat itself.

Gol

As the code without any real specific preferences beyond a playing field big enough to hold a game of league, we’re probably not going to have major input compared to soccer, who are getting their first (and perhaps only) chance to influence a stadium build. The Eels biggest push was for more corporate, we’re getting that. The Wanderers want steep stands and to be close to the action, stuff that benefits Eels fans too. Plus there is plenty of recent experience in building a league focused stadium, three or four have gone up in the last 15 years, where previous… Read more »

Gol

i don’t want to accuse the club of being less interested in the new stadium than the Wanderers, but there is probably more interaction on the Wanderers part because they’ve got more invested in getting standing seats and a better view of the field. The budget cuts and lack of a sponsor might be hurting us in this regard too, not much money or manpower around these days to cut promos for the new stadium. I think we need to do better, but it is still very early on and the Eels focus has more been on “make sure to… Read more »

Achilles' Eel

Parramatta is a city in its own right. Its growth forecasts for the next few years is staggering. There should be no need to make reference to Sydney at all: Western, Greater Western, or Far Greater Western. All references and symbolism should be local.

John Eel

Are you saying it should be Parramatta Stadium. If you are I would agree

Achilles' Eel

I’ve never had a problem with that name. It has more A’s in it than Auva’a! However if changes are afoot, why go with variants of Sydney whatsoever? What next, are we going to re-brand the Sydney Roosters as the Eastern Parramatta Roosters?!

MattL

Totally agree. It’s in Parramatta, we don’t call Kogarah Oval, South West Sydney Oval etc.
Also, the naming would be a huge factor in growing the Eels standing as a major sporting brand… Get onto it Bernie.

Walpy

There is still a couple of years to go. I think Wanderers supporters are probably more paranoid than we are. I suspect they feel they need to fight for a share of the sporting relevance for this stadium. I don’t think for one second Bernie G (or any of the new hierarchy) would allow anyone to become more relevant in that stadium than the Eels. We need to of course stay vigilant! Stadium Name: Parramatta Stadium. I think the stands should have flexible names accordingly designated by the two major tenants at their relevant tenancies.

Kramerica

Great article 60’s. I reckon it will be known as Commbank Stadium, or Westpac Stadium – something like that. It’s generic name will be the Western Sydney one and the overwhelming bulk of Eels supporters will call it Parra Stadium. It will always be Eels central – it’s smack bang next to the leagues club. The ground will always be our home – our spiritual home – but our soul is based firmly at the club and in the supporter’s hearts. Some of our very best years have, ironically, been out of “other people’s” grounds – Belmore and Homebush (or… Read more »

Wizards Sleeve

I’d like to go with something Indigenous as well . Maybe something like ” Gotta Spare Smoke Stadium ” dead set some people,take the political correctness to the extreme .

Achilles' Eel

The irony here is that Parramatta itself is a corruption of the Darug word Burramattagal… And you can keep the smoke. It’s a filthy Balanda habit anyway.

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