Saturday, April 24, 2010

Koops Checks Out His New Home, Or, Acknowledging The Legacy Of Bucky Fuller.

(click on above image for full pic)

This morning I had the pleasure to attend the exclusive Members' Open Day at the new Swan Street Stadium, otherwise known commercially as AAMI Park.  The new stadium is the shared home of the local A-League franchises Melbourne Victory and  Melbourne Heart, rugby union's Melbourne Rebels and the much maligned and damaged rugby league team Melbourne Storm.  What a delightful venue it is.

As I wandered through the soon-to-be-hallowed-corridors, and the soon-to-be-smelly bars, I couldn't help but notice that it seems to be the done thing these days that when one attends this sort of event there are no servers up, or the computer system has crashed, or no one really has any information that you are actually needing, or one is given the wrong directions to one's seat and so on and so forth.  Thankfully, the staff working this event did not disappoint.  Although they were all very polite, none of them seemed to really have any idea what was going on - apart from the courteous security staff at the entrance that informed me that no camera lenses greater than 200mm were allowed to be taken in by patrons.  (I asked the security guard why this was policy and he was unable to give me an answer.  I can't help but think this to be idiotic beyond comprehension.  There are no TV rights to infringe, no exclusivity of advertising to violate, no press deals to compromise.  Why, Victory?  Why?)  Luckily, I was armed simply with my 18-55mm Canon workhorse.  Anyway.   The stadium attendants seemed to have only a rather approximate knowledge of the layout of the stadium, and the club officials present had zero information on seating allocations and were only guessing about membership packages for next season.  Clearly either they were all sleeping through the club's staff indoctrination, or it never happened.  No matter.  The place looks amazing, and as I entered the stadium proper I was covered in goosebumps, imagining the game-time atmosphere.   I had the chance to inspect the view/perspective of my seat (pic above at right), and despite being in the corner of the pitch I witnessed first-hand that there is not a poor seat in the house.  BRING IT ON!!!  The vibe of the place for the derby matches versus the Heart are going to be simply incredible.  I believe that the Heart are attempting to organise a match against Everton for late July 2010, and I admit that I am tempted to go just to see a team like the Toffees play at such a ground.

To any fan of either the round-ball game, or either of the two codes of rugby:  get yourself a season ticket to the team of your choice and get down to this stadium to participate in this experience.  It is going to be brilliant!

I have heard AAMI Park referred to as a 'boutique stadium'.  This cute - and slightly patronizing - term does no justice whatsoever to the stadium's design, where patrons are not just close to the action but virtually on top of it.  Whereas with the stadium at Docklands, where football fans are merely spectators (and this includes the fans of Australian Football), here at AAMI Park the fans are direct participants.  With a capacity of 30,500, I suppose in the context of the legendary Melbourne Cricket Ground across the road a bit it is 'boutique' (I shudder to think how many AAMI Parks you could fit within the confines of that awesome arena), but I expect that this new building will garner quite a reputation within the football world that will belie the tag.  Having seen it this morning I offer my honest congratulations to the architects, Cox Architects and Planners.  It's always lovely to see any work of Buckminster Fuller first-hand, and to see this (I can only assume) homage to his original  idea of the geodesic dome literally in front of my eyes is wonderous indeed.  Now far be it for me to suggest  that football fans would necessarily appreciate this fact any less than the average architect, or indeed the average futurist, but I suppose that it will be enjoyed more simply because of the roof's similarity with the shape of the round-ball.  At any rate, I, Bucky Fuller, acknowledge your contribution, even if the architects may not.

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