'Second class' tenants: Roar fans demand action
On Monday this week, The Den published an ambitious petition claiming Brisbane “is in desperate need of a second rectangular stadium”.
The group has called on the Queensland State Government and Brisbane City Council to facilitate the construction of a second stadium, in light of surface issues and ground availability clashes at Suncorp Stadium, affecting the 2015 Asian Cup and 2015 AFC Champions League respectively.
The petition garnered approximately 600 signatures in the first 12 hours, but has reached just over 1,000 by Thursday night.
The Den’s desired number of signatures is 10,000 and spokesperson Patrick Lindsay conceded if there isn’t viable interest in the movement they wouldn’t progress it.
However, the petition is indicative of a deeper issue burning away in Brisbane, with unrest in the relationship between the club’s supporters and Suncorp Stadium.
“We have been treated, in my opinion, as second class tenants by Suncorp Stadium management for many years,” Lindsay told FourFourTwo.
“During the second half of our seasons we are quite often forced to play on very poor surfaces - and pay a lot of money for the privilege.
“Our demands are designed to force discussion on the current management of Suncorp Stadium, it's over-use and how the government can resolve this worsening problem.”
While Suncorp Stadium management could not comment on the petition, a spokesman told FourFourTwo they enjoyed an excellent and successful relationship with Brisbane Roar as one of its anchor tenants.
The spokesman said the Stadium would not comment on its agreement with the Roar as it was commercial in confidence, and the situation regarding the playing surface for the seven games of the 2015 Asian Cup had been well documented.
The venue’s playing surface was widely condemned during the Asian Cup, while Brisbane Roar had to re-locate all three of its 2015 AFC Champions League group matches to Robina due to a scheduling clash with a Foo Fighters concert at the stadium.
Suncorp Stadium is increasingly attracting more non-sporting events, following the removal of such restrictions, directly leading to both issues.
A Brisbane Roar spokesman told FourFourTwo: “Brisbane Roar FC is in regular dialogue with venue managers at Suncorp Stadium.
“The club is just one hirer of Suncorp Stadium. Other event bookings are a matter for venue management not BRFC.”
Lindsay, who also cited 4pm Sunday kick-offs and the large capacity of the venue in relation to the club’s average crowds as issues, acknowledged the commercial realities which he said had made the current situation unsupportable.
“Suncorp management has shown over many years that it is willing to prioritise concerts over sport in summer,” Lindsay said.
“We believe the privatisation of stadium management will always see a scenario where money is chased at the expense of a quality surface.
“I've already heard rumours of two concerts in November of this year, right in the middle of another A-League season.
“The removal of non-sporting events from the stadium calendar would solve many problems for us, but would also deprive people of quality events which we don't think is in the best interests of the city of Brisbane either.
“We just need an alternate venue capable of taking the load off Suncorp Stadium.”
Brisbane City Council were unavailable for comment on the petition, but it appears overly ambitious given the current situation.
Brisbane Roar said they had no issue with The Den making their stance clear.
“BRFC has always supported The Den in expressing their opinions and their efforts to enact change for the betterment of the game,” a club spokesperson said.
Lindsay added: “It's about raising awareness of the ongoing issues in Brisbane around the existing venue.
“It's about creating dialogue with the relevant people in regard to exploring the option of building an alternate venue to take some of the load off Suncorp Stadium and ensure all sporting codes are given the best chance of success every week.”