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August 24, 2023

Whatever happened to… the people who wanted to vote ‘NO’ to Adelaide Oval?

'CityMag'’s co-founder and creative director at kwpx, Josh Fanning, wonders what happened to the way things were.

Adelaide Oval
  • Words: Josh Fanning
  • Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Whatever happened to Adelaide Oval… the way it was?

Whatever happened to Footy Park and all the amenity of knowing your car was right outside so you could slip out before the final siren and beat the traffic if you were winning (and especially if you were losing)?

Whatever happened to the people who were dead against the concept of footy in the city?

I don’t know. But things have changed.

There was a time, maybe before CityMag (if there was such a time) when a fierce debate raged over whether bringing footy (AFL) to Adelaide Oval was a good or bad idea.

I remember my brother’s wife’s father -a Port supporter -being dead against it. He wasn’t alone. It felt like half of Adelaide was against the development of the oval, of bringing footy into the city, and the ludicrous idea of a $40 million “footbridge” across the Karrawirra Parri River Torrens.

The ‘NO’ camp had their reasons.

Cost and budget were the main arguments against. The status quo of the existing Footy Park culture and the venue being fine as it was. North Adelaide being… well, North Adelaide. And – my favourite – parking.

Parking was my brother’s wife’s father’s gripe.

The idea that he would no longer be able to drive to and park in front of the football stadium was disastrous. He also lived on that side of town. The idea of driving further, tangling with city traffic, with parking garages, or even… public transport… was enough to put him firmly in the ‘NO’ camp.

There was NO WAY that a redeveloped Adelaide Oval, that bringing footy to the city, that a stupid footbridge in the future could be better than what he and every other footy fan had already… at Footy Park.

No way.

10 years later we bloody love Adelaide Oval. I can’t imagine winter in the city without half-cut footy fans, full of mirth and wrapped in scarves. 10 years later, the main complaint I hear about footy in the city is that, “the fucking footbridge is too goddam small and they should have built it bigger”.

Being able to imagine a future better than the present is easy.

Being able to research, design, engineer, pay for, and deliver a future that’s better than the present is very, very difficult.

Being able to convince everyone that the numbers add up, that the future can and will be better, and that everyone will be proud of themselves because we chose to do something good, and difficult, and beautiful is – in fact – impossible.

Some people will never believe that change today will create a better tomorrow.

Some people will vote ‘NO’ because they are sceptical, because they have been duped before, or because they’ve never experienced anything that has truly transformed their experience or our culture.

Adelaide Oval is a better future. It was built by the numbers and another thing. Belief. Belief that ‘YES’ we can have a better future.

In fact, saying ‘YES’ is the only way we ever move forward.

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