BY DREW JONES AND KIRSTEN RICE
The City of Subiaco Council is against renaming Subiaco Oval saying the change is disrespectful of more than 100 years of football heritage.
The WA Football Commission and stockbroking firm Patersons Securities confirmed a deal earlier this month to rename the sports ground Patersons Stadium.
Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson said the Council was opposed to the deal.
“The history and heritage of the name ‘Subiaco Oval’ as a home for football shouldn’t be sold off for short -term financial gains,” she said.
Ms Henderson said the City of Subiaco leases the oval to the WAFC and the oval could never be completely renamed.
“The oval will always have the name ‘Subiaco Oval’ on the sign because the gate is heritage listed,” she said.
Patersons Securities executive chairman Michael Manford said the sign was not an issue because their branding would be prominent throughout the stadium and the deal was beneficial to WA football.
The $3.5 million sponsorship will fund facility improvements, coaching programs, indigenous and multicultural strategies while expanding football districts.
“We see this as a great opportunity to put money into football at a community level and at the same time build and grow Patersons’ brand in WA,” Mr Manford said.
“The WAFC supports football from juniors and Auskick right through to WAFL so really the money goes a long way to look after these communities.”
However the general public has expressed displeasure at the new naming rights.
Perth resident and football fan Grant Lazarus is against the new Patersons name. “I don’t think the name should change because it is iconic its own way and some of that history would be lost,” he said.
One forum contributor on bigfooty.com.au said: “Is nothing sacred? The commission is loaded and yet is more than happy to sell off a piece of WA history and identity for a few more bucks.”
The social networking site Facebook has also been used as a forum of protest with more than 10,000 users joining a group named ‘I refuse to call Subiaco Oval Patersons Stadium’.
Group member Jack Sirett said: “We need to change it back, because Subiaco is its historic name and is the name most West Australians’ call it anyway. Patersons stockbroking firm can get f***** and have their name at some other stadium, not Subi!”
Some group members support the name change.
Josh Meneghini said: “It’s just a name, the renaming is a sponsorship deal worth 3.5 million dollars. That money goes into grassroots footy. 3.5 mil just for a name? You don’t make easier money than that anywhere.”
WAFC spokesman Steve Tuohey understands the concerns of those who are against the name, but said he was convinced the name change was the right move. “We certainly respect the opinions of those who oppose the name change but they have to realise that this is a commercial reality of the sporting world,” he said.
“Stadiums require lots of funding to meet their running costs which is why commercial names for stadiums is increasing.
“Subiaco Oval is going to change and this is part of that. There may come a time where it is demolished to make way for a new stadium or could be relocated completely.”
Mr Tuohey said the funding would be beneficial for local football and would help the recent growth in participation.
“The money will go towards running competitions, improving facilities, organising development programs and particularly working with indigenous communities and in under-privileged or remote areas,” he said.
“There has been a 90 per cent growth in [the number of] football players in the last seven years, we have around 120,000 players now which increased from 70,000 since 2003.”
Despite the historical name change, Mr Tuohey said the WAFC were doing all they could to recognise Subiaco’s history. “We are doing our best to maintain the historical elements of WA football, including naming parts of the stadium after past players and keeping the Subiaco gate intact.”
Subiaco Oval will be known as Patersons Stadium until at least September 2014.
Published in the Western Independent October 2010